Kumar was born in Amritsar in 1944, but the lack of educational opportunities there led her to move to Simla for her schooling, where she attended Loreto Convent. She later studied at Lady Irwin College, where she met and married Shashi Kumar, and then went on to accept a scholarship at Briarcliff College in New York, where she studied Art History. On returning to India, she studied museology at the Asutosh Museum of Indian Art, part of the University of Calcutta.
Kumar began her fashion business in Kolkata, beginning with bridal wear and evening clothes in the 1960s and 70s, she eventually moved into the international market in the subsequent two decades. As well as shops in India, Kumar's company has also opened branches in Paris, London and New York.
In 2002 she launched the "Label" line in partnership with her son Amrish.
In 2013 she was given the Padma Shriaward by the Government of India.
Kumar discusses her career at length in a recent interview for the Creating Emerging Markets project at the Harvard Business School, beginning with how she first broke into the Paris and New York fashion houses and department stores in the 1970s.
Kumar's designs focus on natural fabrics and traditional printing and weaving techniques. She has also included Western elements in her work, but has generally not innovated beyond traditional sari designs.
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