7 indie fashion labels you’ll soon be seeing everywhere
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If a celebrity yardstick is what you need to determine whether a fashion label has ‘arrived’, then know this: Kiran Rao, the high priestess of indie fashion, has already stamped her approval on Aekatri, designer Charu Vij’s organic luxury label.
Vij’s brainchild preaches sustainability and a thoughtful approach to dressing up, firmly placing her philosophically in the ranks of The Plavate, Aureole and Iyla, where handloom fabrics, Indian weaves and trend-free patternmaking reign supreme.
Preaching individualism, simplicity and affordable luxury, these new homegrown labels are quietly attracting a loyal following. Like us at Elle India, who lost our hearts to Aruni Banditanukul’s easy-breezy separates, which will completely reinvent the way you perceive denim.
7 indie fashion labels to fall in love with
As far as celebrity endorsements go, Kiran Rao is a pretty reliable yardstick by which to measure the success of an indie label. So when the director made a public appearance in a silk handloom tunic from Aekatri’s festive collection, designer Charu Vij was understandably overjoyed. Rao’s simple elegance is in tune with Vij’s design philosophy. “When I started my label, occasion wear was limited to over-the-top embellishments and silhouettes. Aekatri is trying to pave the way for organic luxury, an outlook that customers have gradually started appreciating more and more.” Business is clearly booming—enough to encourage Vij to launch a diffusion line, Aek, a development she hopes will catapult her brand into the big league.
If your idea of denim is limited to skinny jeans and acid-washed jackets, allow designer Aruni Banditanukul to expand your imagination. The Thai-Indian designer uses her family’s denim manufacturing business to her advantage to craft the softest summer trenches, breezy dresses and fuss-free saris from the versatile fabric. “We focus on clothing that can be worn anytime, and can suit many lifestyles,” she says. Born in Bangkok and now living in Mumbai, the designer’s resortwear brand understands the unique limitations imposed by a tropical climate. “Our customer seeks ready-to-wear fashion that is perennial, and not limited to a particular season."
Road trips usually offer adventure, introspection and major brownie points for your Instagram feed. But for Aditi Mohoni and Kunal Virwani, one such journey opened up a new career. “We chanced upon skilled artisans weaving their magic into traditional fabrics in Gujarat, and we were spellbound,” Mohoni recalls. The woven fabric is the star of Aureole’s collections, without any sequins, heavy embroidery or other embellishment to distract from it. “After we shot our first collection, we sent copies of our lookbook to our weavers. They were so excited to see our models in the fabric they had so painstakingly woven.”
“We don’t follow trends, we pick up obsessions along the way,” says Bhumika Bhagchandani, who along with her friend Deepika Rawat founded Brain Flower to use fashion as a way to tell a story, to break out of the monotonous corporate life they’d grown weary of. Their designs mirror this romantic idealism, ush with the kind of detailing that both the wearer and the observer can delight in. An abundance of tassels here, an explosion of oral embroidery there... the eight-month-old label allows for, as the designers describe it, the “pleasure of discovery”.
“We wished to make affordable, high-street clothing with Indian textiles at its core. A trans-seasonal wardrobe that could cater to every mood and whim,” says Shreya Anand, the stylist-turned-designer behind Iyla. Anand’s love for Indian textiles manifests in khadi palazzos, ikat pantsuits and ruf ed dresses, and in silhouettes that aren’t held hostage by runway trends. Her agenda for 2017 is clear: “Our next step with Iyla is to have our own e-commerce store and a larger retail reach in brick and mortar shops as well as pop-ups."
Sisters Sravani Vuppala and Smarani Vuppala’s combined passion for fairy tales and magic inspired them to launch Pushpak Vimaan. “The world needs more people who view it with a childlike sense of wonder. Our clothes are an expression of that sentiment,” explains Smarani. Ruf es are a leitmotif, while the designers play with sheer elements to add a subtle sexiness to the garments. “Earlier this year, Vancouver Fashion Week extended an invitation to us to present our work at their S/S 2018 show,” reveals Smarani. “The invite was such an encouragement. Our studio is enthusiastically gearing up for the show.”
As an advertising professional, Meenuk Tiwari spent her time building brands for other people. But with a background in design and a love for comfortable clothing, Tiwari decided it was time to create something for herself. “My mother used to make clothes for us when we were kids. It left an impression on me. And when I decided to start The Plavate, I just knew I needed to make clothes the old-fashioned way,” she explains. With oversized tunics and pleated dresses that brim with nostalgia, Tiwari refuses to follow fashion calendars that encourage feverish consumption. “We hope more people support a sustainable lifestyle. Not just in clothing, but in every aspect of life."