Indie labels to know
All the lesser known brands you need in your wardrobe – right this minute
If you like Penhaligon's, L’Artisan Parfumeur, you'll love Code Deco
Every one of Code Deco’s range of artisan perfumes is supposed to evoke less tangible things like music, poetry or a sense of place and time. Our favourites are ‘Thar in Pink’ and ‘Marwar’, which are inspired by Rajasthan and the smell of marigold (a flower rarely used in conventional perfumes) – they invoke a sense of place by simply reminding us of the scents native to the region. A complex fragrance in a simple bottle, Code Deco hits all the right notes.
Available at Le Mill, Mumbai and codedeco.com.sg
If you like Pero, 11.11, you'll love Eka
If you swear by Indian handcrafted clothes – made using saudagiri block-printing, ajrakh, kalamkari and kantha embroidery – tailored into contemporary silhouettes, ekà is what you need. Rina Singh launched the label in 2010, and her creations are already on the books of design-focused stores like Good Earth and over 50 stores internationally. It’s touted to be the go-to label for sustainable Indian textiles.
Available at Cinnamon, Bengaluru and Ogaan, Delhi
If you like Akaaro by Gaurav Jai Gupta, you'll love Anavila
Anavila was on our radar when they held an exhibition as part of Bungalow 8’s Glocal (global + local) series. In fact, the label has been creating linen saris for the past two years. Designer Anavila Misra launched her namesake label because she wanted “a brand that defines a new design philosophy of minimalism through pure organic details.” Textured yet minimal handwoven saris are hard to come by, and this one is definitely on top of our must-have list.
Available at Amethyst, Chennai and Basava Ambara, Bengaluru
If you like Hermès, Suhani Pittie, you'll love A Peace Treaty
In 2008, a Pakistani Muslim, Farah Malik, and a Libyan Jew, Dana Arbib, made a pact to create employment for skilled artisans in war-torn regions. Their jewellery and scarf brand, A Peace Treaty, is the result of that pact. We were sold on the story, and then we saw the collection. Their Spring/Summer 2014 line of pure silk scarves in lively neons and vintage feminine tints were created in workshops in West Bengal’s villages, and the jewellery was put together in Jaipur using the ancient wax technique. Fashion for a cause is good for the soul, and that’s more than good enough for us.
Available at Bungalow 8, Mumbai and apeacetreaty.com
If you like Shivan and Narresh, you'll love Deme by Gabriella
According to Gabriella Demetriades,a gap in the market for clothes that made women feel elegant and sensual led her to launch Deme. Her new collection includes jumpsuits with necklines deep enough to make the most adventurous blush, and we are hooked on how effortlessly sexy her designs are. Gym time, ladies.
Available at demebygabriella.com
If you like Urvashi Kaur, you'll love Kishmish
Single-toned staples that you can wear to work (and then to a party) best describe Kishmish’s designs. Handwoven looms of cotton, linen and silk are given preference over machine-created fabrics. Designers Nikki Kalia and Rekha Bhatia keep their focus on creating simple clothes – their airy kurtas and shirt dresses are super for summer.
Available at Ensemble, Mumbai and Rain Tree, Bengaluru
If you like Nappa Dori, you'll love Dhora
If you have a penchant for soft leather goods, Dhora’s range of handcrafted shoes, totes and travel bags will make you weak in the knees. The products by the Jaipur-based label (which creates jewellery as well) have a distinctly earthy feel to them and the inclusion of local art and craft only adds to their appeal.
Available at Teatro Dhora, Jaipur and Bombaim, Kolkata
If you like Rajesh Pratap Singh, you'll love Lacquer Embassy
Tailored shirts, Oxfords and perfect grooming – yes, we love dapper men, and the clothes by Delhi-based Nikhil Sharma’s brand Lacquer Embassy will convert even the most staunch Peter Pan into a gentleman. Think simple, wearable silhouettes with an emphasis on prints and patterns – the graphic pocket squares in silk are our favourite. It’s barely a year old, but has our attention for adding a tasteful, modern edge to old-world elegance.
Available at The Studio, Hauz Khas Village, Delhi and lacquerembassy.com
If you like Eina Ahluwalia, Zariin, you'll love Manifest Destiny
With nature as their core inspiration – corals, vines, rock sculptures – brother-sister duo Manreet and Samraat Deol launched the handcrafted jewellery brand in the summer of 2013. Their textural and asymmetrical cuffs and bangles have been on our wish list for a while. Created by metal smiths using old techniques of sculpting, every piece is unique.
Available at manifestdestiny.in
If you like Pamela Love, you'll love Lune
Vintage shopping hauls turning you into a hoarder? Worry not, you just need to find a way to add utility to your collectibles. It’s what 26-year-old Sreesha Shetty did. Her label, Lune, is your go-to brand for delicate body harnesses and bullet-shaped crystal pendants. The on-trend pieces can be customised and starting at Rs 300 a pop, they’re easy on both eye and wallet.
Available at tadpolestore.com, Goa or email email@example.com
If you like Lush, Burt's Bees, you'll love Naked by Lisa Haydon
When model Lisa Haydon got tired of reading the unending list of ingredients in various beauty products, she went back home and mixed some organic sea salt and oil to create a scrub that replenished her skin rather than dehydrating it. “Bathing with salt does just that,” says the model; and that was where the idea for her home-grown brand came from (until recently, she hadn’t even thought about the packaging process). Her products are known to have ingredients such as vanilla, lavender, apricot fudge and grapefruit – and we can hardly wait for Haydon’s delicious new range of lip balms, coming soon.
If you like Manish Arora, you'll love Kundalini Arts
Are you drawn to bright colour and kaleidoscopic impressions? UK-based Kundalini Arts by Philip Shadbolt and Mandala Bob is for you. Their scarves and shawls feature traditional Indian motifs like the mogra flower and peacock feathers banded with oriental design elements and Art Nouveau aesthetics. The label debuted in 2008, and after collaborating with Manish Arora for Spring/Summer 2010, there’s been no looking back.
Available at Bombay Electric, Mumbai and Second Floor Studio, Delhi
If you like Tatty Devine, Riddhika Jesrani, you'll love Stone Paper Scissor
Before you trash the idea of recycled jewellery, let Rashi Verma’s brand Stone Paper Scissor change your mind. The earrings, necklaces and brooches are made from paper and fabrics that would otherwise be discarded. Incorporating a quirk factor for the statement pieces, Verma handcrafts each of them keeping in mind contrasting colour combinations and geometric designs, which makes every product unique.
Available at NIMAI, Delhi
If you like Rohit Gandhi+Rahul Khanna, you'll love Rashmi Varma
For those who lean towards understated elegance in monotones, this new label (already snapped up by En Inde) is a must-see. Montreal-born Rashmi Varma honed her skills as a designer working for films like Deepa Mehta’s Heaven on Earth (2008),and has even exhibited installations at the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art. For her eponymous label, Varma mixes Indian crafts like chikankari and dabka embroidery with digitally printed graphics for a modish result with oodles of personality.
Available at En Inde, Delhi and Jaipur Modern, Jaipur
If you like The Bungalow, Bhane, you'll love Runaway Bicycle
According to founder Preeti Verma, the e-store stocks clothes that are "cherry and as cool as an afternoon breeze." The limited-edition collections of casual womenswear are all about minimalism and come with playful names-the Monday Blues shirt is actually a favourite at the Elle office. Their campaign pictures are a refreshing change as well, with fun elements like confetti, origami birds and cats. We heart.
Available at runawaybicycle.in
If you like Anthropologie, you'll love Rara Avis
“My obsession with the ‘wunderkammer’ inspired me to create,” explains founder Sonal Verma. Whether you’re hunting for offbeat jewellery, easy cotton dresses or bags, RARA AVIS is a good bet. For summer, she’s kept it minimal with washed linen dresses, leather fringe necklaces and woven messenger bags. We’re hankering after the ikat series.
Available at Collage, Chennai and perniaspopupshop.com
If you like Ancient Greek Sandals, you'll love Ticket to Timbuktu
Of course we love our heels, but sometimes only the comfort of flats will do: and the craftsmanship and simplicity of Ticket To Timbuktu has us bowled over. Rhinestone-embellished and colour-blocked in contemporary shapes, the label’s ballerinas and sandals are high on style and super comfy for everyday. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that for every pair of shoes sold, they gift books to Foundation of Learning – an initiative to educate children in remote regions of Ladakh. It’s a win-win.
Available at Le Mill, Mumbai and shop.tickettotimbuktu.com
If you like Nida Mahmood, you'll love Radio Rani
So subtlety doesn’t exist in your vocabulary or wardrobe? Go the whole nine yards with Radio Rani. Mumbai girl Sneh Nihalani wanted to wear saris that were a departure from the usual benares, chanderis and kanjeevarams, so she started the kitsch sari label and replaced the mundane with quirky prints of trucks, owls and matchboxes.
If you like Payal Pratap, you'll love Nomad
Nomad reinvents the ghagra and makes it an attractive option for the urban fashion-lover. Cotton mal, handwoven cotton mashru and jewelled tones keep the traditional appeal intact, while the flare and cut of the gypsy skirt is modernised by removing excess bulk from the waistline, making it very wearable.
Available at Good Earth, nationwide and Indianroots.com