Designers

12 indie labels you need to know

Want to dress like a fashion insider? Wear these before everyone else does

  • The new frontiers of the digital space have allowed for a whole lot of free-thinking fashion fun, and spawned a generation of independent designers who don’t depend on traditional, clunky retail models. What sets these labels apart — and makes them so of-the-moment — are uncommon design ideas. This isn’t fast fashion’s rapid-fire rhetoric, but a conversation that’s daring, distinctive and hearteningly in demand. These labels are making their own rules, whether it’s a focus on sustainability or a mandate to re-imagine heritage fabrics. We cherry-picked our favourites from fashion’s latest brat pack, all available at a website near you. Catch them before they go mainstream.

    Anomaly

    Your search for well-fitting basics ends here. Anomaly appreciates the need for work wear that is sophisticated yet comfortable. “Clean design, functionality and versatility are at the core of our design process,” says founder Medha Khosla. They only use naturally sourced fabrics and work closely with their artisans to ensure quality. Coloured in a soothing palette that gradiates from cool blues to whites, their website is a sight for sore eyes and their clothes are your best bet for surviving the summer. Shopanomaly.in

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  • The Ikat Story

    “The Ikat Story came to life because of my love for the fabric,” says Chandni Sareen, founder and creative head. Playful and carefree, these separates make a youthful addition to your wardrobe. Bikini tops and sleeveless reversible dusters will snazz up your beach vibe and denim jackets with ikat inserts, paired with some basic Vans, are perfect for a night on the town. This is a modern day re-telling of an age-old fabric story that has gone through a number of transformations. Sareen’s version is contemporary and wearable, while holding true to its ethnicity. Facebook.com/theikatstory

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  • Crow

    Organic cotton gone luxe, Crow has an urban, easy appeal. Their new Summer/Resort 2016 collection titled Raw Shift comprises anti-fit silhouettes, oversized tops layered over skirts and poofy capes, all in palate-cleansing whites, blues and greys. Facebook.com/CROW4YOU/

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  • The Pot Plant

    Sustainable fashion is top priority to this brand, which uses fabrics and silhouettes in a way that brings to mind the non-mechanised age, when garments were infused with the wearer’s personality and history. “Every garment we make is 100% cotton. Comfort and slow fashion are of utmost importance,” says co-founder Resham Karamchandani. Checked cotton shift dresses in cool blues, beige and white double-layer pants and pastel pink anti-fit dresses all come together to form a deliciously earthy line. Facebook.com/thepotplant

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  • The Sole Sisters

    The Sole Sisters first started selling their shoes through a blog in 2011. Inundated with orders, they soon expanded and are now a known name in the indie shoe circuit. “The materials and fabrics we use are hand-spun, hand-embroidered or handwoven. We value meticulous detailing and artisanal craftsmanship,” says creative head Chondamma Cariappa. The designs are modern in structure, and rich in local colour. The ikat and khadi sandals caught our eye. Facebook.com/thesolesisters

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  • Banjanan

    Clothes created around human stories, that’s designer Caroline Weller’s promise. Weller often references details from her travels and the people she meets along the way. Natural motifs are a recurring theme, as are florals and bird prints on light and airy chiffons. Bright colours and statement prints come together to form pieces that are perfect for spontaneous summer travel plans. Of the S/S 2016 collection, Caroline says, “I was inspired by the artist Sonia Delaunay and David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust.” Expect tons of chutzpah and an unrestrained use of colour. Banjanan.com

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  • Mogra

    Mogra goes to some lengths to source its fabrics. “We climb mountains, change buses, hail rickshaws, manoeuvre markets, take trains and drive far and wide to handpick the best crafts and textiles India has to offer,” says founder Sheena Roy. You’ll find  bandhini shift dresses, phulkari dresses on hand-embroidered chanderi silk and even pleated Benarasi Jaali dresses, all of which evoke the spirit of adventure. If you love traditional fabrics but wish they came in more wearable styles, this is the label to follow. Facebook.com/mogradesigns

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  • Misho 

    Suhani Parekh’s structural jewellery brand starts up where tradition leaves off. Her pieces might be crafted from the ancient art of silversmithing, but her design sensibilities are minimalistic and modern. Moved by architecture, simple geometry and the Japanese version of Bauhaus, Parekh believes in the power of subtle details when it comes to tweaking an outfit. “Taking inspiration from mid-century art and architecture, we have created something that’s vintage in spirit yet contemporary in form,” says Parekh. Density rings (dotted with little globes), ear cuffs and cubist, silver cufflinks make for a collection that brings a dollop of the unexpected to daily wear. Mishodesigns.com

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  • Artisau

    Artisau’s identity is built around three keywords: raw, organic, handmade. Simran Chaudhry’s clothes are a celebration of Indian textile and there's close attention to textural detail in each piece. “Artisau means hand-crafted,  and the clothes are carefully hand-stitched and detailed with fabrics woven on handlooms across the country,” says Chaudhry. Tussar silks from Bengal give dresses a crinkled, just-out-of-bed look, while block-printed Chanderi silk kurtas make for easy occasion wear. Chaudhry grew up watching her grandmother sew all her own clothes, and a lifelong infatuation with traditional sewing techniques is evident in everything she creates. Facebook.com/WearArtisau

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  • LOQ

    LOQ is a neat meshing of Indian and western sensibilities. Keren Longkumer and Valerie Quant realised their shared love for leather design at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, California and decided to launch their own shoe brand. The mission was to create modern-yet-timeless pieces. Quant brought a bit of California’s relaxed vibe, while Longkumer integrated India’s love for colour and ornamentation. The shoes are a re-invention of iconic designs like the Lazaro square boot, which they have in black patent leather. Facebook.com/loqshoes

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  • Bias

    For Mridu Mehra and Shruti Bhardwaj, Bias is not just a repository of sustainable design. The duo also uses the canvas of fashion to make their points on social as well as environmental issues. They don’t believe in empty aestheticism, instead preferring to stay ‘conscious’ through their designs. “Minimising waste, making conscious buying choices, localising labour and sources to make expressive art is how we think Bias can balance the imbalanced manufacturing and consuming cycle,” says Mehra. The latest collection is a utilitarian look at the clothes of the nomadic Banjara tribe. With small, hidden details like thumb slots and pockets, they’ve injected functionality into delicate outfits crafted with beadwork, jute, crochet and mirrors. Facebook.com/wearbias  

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  • Olio

    What you wear is a reflection of how you’re feeling at the moment and it’s these very specific moods that designers Aashna Singh and Sneha Saksena seek to represent with their clothes. “We derive our inspiration from a lot of geometric patterns, simple shapes and functional silhouettes,” says Singh. At the moment, they house two collections or 'stories': The Binary and Circus. The first is monochromatic, while the second is more celebratory, with little splashes of colour and whimsy. Theoliostories.com

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