In a sea of young Indian designers, you can easily spot an Arpita Mehta look, because who else would pair a Versace-esque chainmail blouse with a traditional Indian lehenga? She arrived on the Indian fashion scene in 2009, and since then Arpita has managed to successfully juxtapose traditional silhouettes with a bohemian-chic fusion. Fronting comfort over edgy couture, Arpita is a people’s designer—she often sights inspiration in her surroundings and beautifully translates them sartorially. While mirror-work was time and again associated with old-school folk silhouettes, Arpita’s infusion of it in contemporary silhouettes like cropped jacket capes, bralettes and kaftans modernised the rural craft. In an attempt to further push the boundaries as a designer, she has launched AM by Arpita Mehta—entering the world of season-less fashion, making luxe fashion affordable while keeping it classy. In a quick chat with ELLE, AM talks about her new eponymous venture and what’s in store for her in the future.
ELLE: Making luxury affordable. Was that a conscious decision? Since it will open up a whole new avenue of customers?
Arpita Mehta: “The kind of designs that we are doing with AM do not involve embroidery, something that adds on to a garment, making it more expensive. So the idea of this is to keep it very easy-chic and comfortable with beautiful prints and minimal detailing. We’re using the same kind of fabrics that we would use in a fusion or bridal with the same kind of detailing as mirror and shell hat goes even with the less heavy stuff. Also, we are pricing them as separates, so that if someone just wants to buy the top and does not like the whole concept, they can do that as well. Through this, we are planning to reach out to as many people who would love to wear our brand.”
ELLE: You’ve spoken about going on trans-seasonal with your label and offering a wide range of silhouettes catering to all kinds of events, what made you expand in this direction?
AM: “As a brand, we’ve been making kaftans for the past two years, and we’ve been doing capes and kite pants for the past five years. So they have been a part of our label for a while now, but the whole reason behind doing AM was to add more silhouettes like separates, corsets etc which are more wearable in all shapes and sizes. So the basic inspiration is people—they’ve been coming to us saying, “Can you make us this, can you make us that,” and we have always kind of turned it down saying it’s not possible because we are doing only festive wear. So to make sure that we have something for everyone, we’ve created a sub-line which is like a perennial, all-season line.”
ELLE: As you said, there has been no compromise on the quality, was it difficult to bring the same richness to this line in this thinner budget range?
AM: It is hard since we’re trying to maintain the quality even if we’re making a lighter range, which is why we aren’t terming this line as pret. It is a luxury line, you will get a lighter piece but the quality will not be compromised. It’s still a designer look, but it will be budgeted between 11,000 to 50,000.”
ELLE: How are you planning to go extra minimal with this line without diluting your signature aesthetic?
AM: “This new line will have its own signatures. While my traditional label has become synonymous with mirror work, shell work and prints, we are trying to think of this new line as a blank canvas. Although, the styles and cuts will remain to be fluid, flowing and easy to wear, which is important to the brand Arpita Mehta.”
ELLE: People have altered their spending habits because of the pandemic. So as a designer, has your approaches towards making clothes after observing COVID trends?
AM: “I feel that the design approach hasn’t changed. The excitement for purchasing is at an all-time high and people are ready to buy anything and everything, as long as it’s fresh and new. From the experience that we’ve had, people are craving more after 2 years of hiatus. And it’s not that they’re spending less, it’s just that they are spending smart on something unique.”
ELLE: As a luxury designer, do you think you’re getting to experiment more with this label as it is an extension of your traditional brand?
AM: “With this line, I get to experiment more because it’s built from the heart and I constantly think about what I want to wear, what my family and my friends want to wear as everyone has a different aesthetic. I do get to play around with several styles other than those that are basically meant for our Indian functions. You know the way we all think. We do have a particular mindset we love doing a traditional lehenga for a wedding, we can just drape a saree around pants and call that bridalwear. So our aesthetic is pretty much set when it comes to our mainline. But in this is my playground, I experiment a lot with the styles, embellishments, handicrafts and fabrics.
ELLE: So my last question will be, Indian labels and corporates have been merging lately and it’s sort of becoming a trend. What do you feel about this and will you be participating in this trend?
AM: “I think it’s an amazing trend and with everything that has been going on. Every brand has a vision and every corporate has a vision for itself and it’s excellent to see it come together in a union. It’s an opportunity everyone would like to get into, once we are there, we’ll probably be open to an idea like that. That is where we are at right now.”
With wedding season around the corner, tap here to find out about the latest collections by Indian designers.