All you need to know about the hot new label behno
behno's founder, Shivam Punjya, tells us what makes it a label with a heart
The words clean and minimal define the aesthetic.
“We wanted to challenge how ‘made in India’ has traditionally been perceived. We love a very clean, crisp and minimal aesthetic that focuses on reinventing traditional menswear tailoring for womenswear in order to create a modern, refined style.
behno’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection uses luxurious fabrics, ranging from wool with cashmere to silk organza and cotton to classic suiting and techy synthetic knit pieces. We currently source our fabrics globally, but plan to work deeper within India to source nontraditional fabrics and artisan textiles to localise our products as much as possible. We want to showcase a “made in India” label that the global contemporary market may not be expecting from India.”
The name of the label, behno, reminds you of the community behind it.
“We wanted our label to signify a community that very much resonates with our business principles and ethos. In many garment factories, female garment workers refer to each other as “behn”, or sister, and garment factories become beautiful places where workers become family and part of a much larger collective – including the global fashion industry!”
behno aims to raise the industry standard.
“A part of behno’s mission is to set a new standard for Indian factory manufacturing that demonstrably improves the quality of life and safety of women in the garment trade. In order to do this, behno has partnered with a large non-profit to build an ethical garment factory in rural Gujarat, called MSA Ethos. Along with complying with rigorous international factory protocols, MSA Ethos will also implement “The behno Standard”, which is broken into six categories: health, garment worker mobility, family planning, women’s rights, worker satisfaction and benefits, and eco-consciousness. These categories will be rolled out as the factory continues to develop and the brand continues to expand.”
The founder of the label switched from economics to fashion.
“I think I would attribute what I do today to my education at U.C. Berkeley, because it exposed me to a way of thinking that is fundamental to addressing issues and global progress. I had a professor, Ananya Roy, who really pushed me to question the status quo of the production and sustenance of poverty. Her class on global poverty inspired me to study global health – very different from my political economics major at Berkeley – and dive into a field that merged my love for business and non-profit work.
behno was born in 2012, when I was conducting my thesis research in India on women’s reproductive health in Jaipur and Hyderabad for my M.S. program at Duke University. During this time, I came across khadi for the first time and fell in love with its beautiful texture and luxurious feel. I started to learn more about it and the weavers behind the textile by visiting rural villages in Gujarat; I came across the weavers, their families, and their homes. I soon noticed a very visible disparity between what they were producing and what they were earning. As I became more interested, the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed and that really hit the mark for me. This, compounded with the fact that we wanted to redefine and bring more awareness to the craft and character of ‘made in India’ even from a design vantage point, led me starting up behno.”
Photographs: Nicholas Turk