How do you spot a Raw Mango store? Well, you can’t. None of Sanjay Garg’s stores look like they are a space to sell. The Bengaluru store has no show windows, no mannequins. The Chennai store is even more inconspicuous, as if that were even possible. Nestled in a leafy neighbourhood, the air aromatic with the smell of mogra, the Raw Mango store in Chennai is housed in an Art Deco structure. It could easily be mistaken for a gallery or museum. Visually stunning, a mandate the brand lives by, the store is liking walking through your grandmother’s home, squealing in delight as you discover one of her resplendent sarees. There’s a room here, peculiar in its shape- it can be described, at best, as oval-ish- that showcases his designs wonderfully. It is here that you know that Raw Mango isn’t going for numbers, it’s a whole mood. Walking through a Raw Mango store is like embarking on an adventure, you never know what you will find around the corner.
The location of the store in Chennai is particularly of note. It’s a residential place, quiet and leafy. “Why here?” we ask Sanjay. “I actually don’t think I would enjoy being in the middle of a busy market. Here, your customer is literally coming only for you, looking at your collection and what you’ve created. That, to me, is special,” Sanjay explains. In fact, he says the place often becomes the muse. He says the choice to keep the original flooring comes with years of working with Visual Creative Director, Adityan Melekalam who has been integral in designing the spaces for many of the Raw Mango stores. There’s plenty of sunlight streaming in through the big windows here, making the entire space come alive.
The Chennai outpost of the brand has an opulent chandelier occupying prime real estate. But it is the second floor that houses the most eccentric collection of figurines, animal miniatures and more. And each piece here has a story that’s close to Sanjay’s heart. I would ask about each piece but then this interview would go on forever. He looks at this as his way to tracing history. “Some of these things are not made or are not available any more. I have collected these over the years and for different reasons. It could be the visual to motif to the material to skill to heritage and quality and things like that,” he says, explaining his picks.
Of course, I had to ask him what inspires him, a question that designers are ask way too often but with Raw Mango, while the brand identity is strong and impactful, it’s also constantly evolving. Sanjay thinks about this for a bit, then says, “You know, I am not the kind to say, ‘Hey, buy my product!’ It’s more like let me have a look at everything that’s happening and I’m just kind of inspired by it.”
Recently, the brand launched their Festive 2022 collection, Peacock Country. This collection is an homage to the rich heritage of the royal families of Mughals and Rajputana. I have already wishlisted a few for the upcoming wedding season.
We were also there when they launched Sher Bagh. Want to read more about that? Click here.