Founder Anita Lal On 25 Years Of The Iconic Brand Good Earth
For over two decades, this home decor and apparel brand has been reintroducing us to our own roots.
The Indian sensibility is often looked at as maximalist and royal, sometimes kitschy and even ethnic. To encompass India’s cultural diversity takes a large and compassionate vision. Good Earth’s Anita Lal, a formidable name in Indian design, has successfully done just that. As 2020 put our homes back in focus, Lal says, “My deepest desire is that we look at the wisdom inherited from our ancestors.” With a mission to introduce products that bring joy to everyday living, Good Earth has grown to be a full-fledged design brand, focusing on home, apparel, textiles and international partnerships. Most importantly, it’s also a destination to address a collective yearning for our culture. As the iconic brand celebrates 25 years, we trace its evolution through 15 of its biggest milestones.
1996: The Beginning: The First Good Earth Store
Anita Lal, an avid potter herself, recognised that the craft of the kumbhar village potters was dying. Terracotta matkas were giving way to lighter, unbreakable plastic containers and severely affecting livelihoods. A revivalist and patron at heart, she opened the first Good Earth boutique at Kemps Corner, Mumbai as a platform to connect the village potters with urban consumers who could appreciate Indian, with a twist. 1997: Spice trail, The first design story The brand’s distinctive brand and design language means one is able to recognise the motifs and products everywhere. ‘Chillies’ celebrated the quintessential Indian red and green chillies on hand-painted china in indigo, with accents of saffron, red and turquoise. Watch out as they re-release this vintage print as a part of their flashback campaign this summer.
1997: Spice Trail, The First Design Story
The brand’s distinctive brand and design language mean one is able to recognise the motifs and products everywhere. ‘Chillies’ celebrated the quintessential Indian red and green chillies on hand-painted china in indigo, with accents of saffron, red and turquoise. Watch out as they re-release this vintage print as a part of their flashback campaign this summer.
2000: God’s Own Inspiration Board: Periyar
“When you think of home, it’s always the bedsheet first. Textiles were a natural progression for us.” Mrs Lal’s vision for a coast inspired line included a hand-block print on linen featuring motifs of majestic elephants and verdant groves of palm, banana and mango trees. This bestselling collection includes a range of cushions, bed covers and tableware. The cups with the palm prints, alone, have sold more than 75,000 pieces to date!
2005-2007: A Fine Taste: Raghuvanshi Mills Flagship Store & Tasting Room, India’s First Wine Bar
A growing presence meant a larger space. Serendipitously, a 20,000 sq ft Raghuvanshi Mills space in Mumbai was identified. Previously a textile mill, it was envisioned to be as evocative and romantic as the products themselves. In 2007 they launched The Tasting Room, a cafe with an intent to celebrate wine in a cosy, romantic space along with a library.
2005: Sacred Metals: Kansa Craft Innovation
“Copper jugs, dohars… these were not common when Good Earth reintroduced them to the market, even though they are now everywhere,” Lal remembers. Kansa metal is gaining popularity for its anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties. Good Earth’s version features dinner sets that are hand-beaten by tribal craftsmen. Its alkalinising effect on water and food is said to promote innumerous health benefits. Kansa is one of their ongoing commitments since 2005, and has led to reverse migration of a whole village in Orissa—the very thought that Good Earth first began with.
2010: Second Skin: Launch Of Sustain, The First Apparel Line
When Good Earth launched Sustain, their first clothing line, the apparel market was saturated. But Lal felt that no one catered to the need for elegant daily wear that celebrated Indian crafts and textiles. Historic silhouettes such as farsh and choga were modernised to welcome Indian bodies. “We never followed the western size chart. Our labels depict a small size as a petal, a slightly bigger as two petals and then a fullblown flower.” Some of the notable innovations of Sustain over the years have been chikankari on khadi, varaq work of Jaipur, reviving the royal craft of hand-cut gota embroidery and ajrak on velvet.
2014: The Royal Renovation: Rajmahal Palace
The team restored Jaipur’s Rajmahal Palace, including 17 rooms and four royal suites. Elephants in ceremonial processions and the geometric trellises of Mughal Garden pavilions found their way to the palace in celebration of the region’s boundless heritage. This formed the basis of a collaboration with Asian Paints in 2016 to create the Nilaya range of wallpapers.
2015: An International Appeal
The twentieth year was marked by supporting ‘The Fabric of India,’ a seminal exhibit at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. Products based on iconic Indian textiles were on display and for sale. Parts of the museum were transformed to look like Kashi; decorative umbrellas woven in Benarasi silk brocades, roses and jasmine flowers were flown from Mumbai. Indian film and shehnai music was used, and V&A’s dome was lit up to evoke sunlight and sunset on the holy Ganges river. It was an ethereal and quintessential Indian experience. 2015: Textile traditions: Developing the gyasar brocade
2015: Textile Traditions: Developing The Gyasar Brocade
The signature gyasar brocade is their proof of seriousness towards textile innovation. In the Kashi collection, there are four warp threads through each dent (twice as much as average brocade, including 200 gms of gold zari). A huge technical undertaking, made in a trompe l’oeil effect, it almost seems embroidered. In fact, each cushion cover takes about six months to be made.
2018: A Pause: PARO, Launch Of A Luxury Wellness Brand
“Paro is a deeply personal luxury, but not in an initials embossed-on-a-bag sort of way,” Lal explains. Using signature Indian flower names such as juhi and chameli for its beauty offerings, Paro was envisioned to offer a pause in our lives.
2018: Countdown To Couture: The Miniaturist
Good Earth’s first couture collection debuted at Lakme Fashion Week with just 27 looks. The royal craft of hand-cut gota embroidery served as inspiration to create ensembles in diaphanous silhouettes that reflect a contemporary sensibility. Made in small numbers, with no pressure of volume on karigars, it helped craft clusters experiment and upskill their talent.
2018: Conscious Consumption: Sustainable Packaging
Recognising that sustainable design is only as sustainable as its packaging, the brand committed to a crumping process using 70 per cent recycled paper and 30 per cent virgin craft paper.
2019: Good Earth X International Waters
The Good Earth X Soneva Fushi collaboration saw a six-month pop-up store at the sustainable Maldivian property. The island also inspired the Maladvipa collection, featuring motifs of leafy palms, mirihi, red hibiscus and champak flowers on textiles and fine bone china. Its sand-blown, recycled glassware in cobalt blue tones are reminiscent of Maldivian waters.
2019: An Ode To Sindhu: First Stand-Alone Presentation
On Sustain’s 10th anniversary, a standalone fashion show showcased the crafts and textile traditions of the Indus river. The 72-piece collection included a menswear line for the first time. The focus was on ancient block-printing art of ajrak, with pieces recreated in different media such as the fostat brocade.
2021: A New FLOW: Launch Of Handloom RTW
Taking Sustain’s philosophy to a millennial mindset, Flow was launched in April. Made for a conscious audience, this capsule collection includes dresses, suits, classic trousers and tailored blouses primarily handwoven in malkha and kala cotton—both more sustainable forms of cotton textiles. The palette of indigo blues, neutral greys and earthy tones offset their signature ‘mogra white,’ encouraging a new conversation.
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