One day when I was scrolling through my search feed on Instagram, a gorgeous crescent-shaped bag caught my eye. Obviously, I had to tap on it and see where it was from. That’s how I chanced upon the accessory label, Mistry. Half-moon bags have been trending the whole of 2020 on a global scale, so when a homegrown label started making them here, it’s bound to become a hit among all the fashion enthusiasts!
Literally translating to a master artisan in English, Mistry celebrates its craftsmen who work meticulously to bring every design to life. Born during a pandemic, the label is one of the many businesses that has been successful during this time and has come a long way in such a short span. In a chat with ELLE, Ronak Kapoor, founder of Mistry, takes us through his inspiration behind his bestseller bag, why people are so crazy about it, and more.
ELLE: What led you to start Mistry?
Ronak Kapoor (RK): I have grown up in a family of traders and exporters, so I always had a sense of the global leather/fashion scenario. Working under my father, who owns and runs a leather export house, has given me immense exposure. What I enjoyed the most was speaking to the craftsmen and learn more about their lives and stories. I wanted them to get more recognition than they did. So I got a diploma from NIFT in leather design and decided to start a small in-house brand called Mistry.
ELLE: Your crescent-shaped Selena bags have become a rage among fashion enthusiasts, making it the brand’s signature style. What inspired the shape, and why the name Selena?
RK: We have always taken inspiration from nature and tried to infuse geometry in our designs. The first Selena made was just a late-night experiment at the workshop, on a crescent moon night, and little did we know, it would become our bestseller of all times. Selena is a feminine name of Greek origin, derived from the Greek Selēnē meaning ‘moon’, making it quite literal.
ELLE: Apart from the shape, what about the Selena bag do you think has attracted people the most?
RK: It is the unique shape that has complimented and flattered every person, but also the fact that it is actually functional (most people feel it would be not ) has just attracted a lot of people towards it more. Shortly after we had released our bags, this shape was declared the IT bag of 2020, and that really pushed all eyes on us. We quickly realised that Selena would be our bestseller, so our aim was to create more and more patterns and colours to cater to every style, mood, and personality. Every time we drop a new Selena, we see the love and anticipation it gets, and that just motivates us to keep experimenting.
ELLE: Can you tell us more about your mood board and creative process while designing the bags?
RK: The fashion from the late ’90s and even modern minimalism today play a huge role in my designs. My own style is also very neutral, minimal, modern and high-street. A lot of inspiration comes directly from nature, architecture, simple minimal daily designs, and even from a utilitarian point of view. I make my own mood boards and use them as references while the collection is being shot, too. It really helps me to visualise the bags in a real-life concept and space.
ELLE: What other shapes and silhouettes are you exploring?
RK: We have explored a lot more shapes inspired by daily essentials and a twist on common shapes like the letterbox, an upside-down trapezium sling (trapeze), envelope-shaped minis, and are also working on some wallets. However, we like to experiment more in terms of technique, like our recent experiment with tie and dye leather.
ELLE: What material is used for making the bags?
RK: We use reclaimed leather hides, procured from big factories, and upcycle them to create most of our prints and designs, as we believe in zero waste.
ELLE: This year has taken an unexpected turn yet again, and it’s great to see fashion brands doing their bit to help. You have also started an initiative – Mistry for Covid Relief. Could you tell us more about it?
RK: We saw the condition worsen every day in front of our eyes, and on the day of our launch, the city moved into another lockdown. We weren’t too worried about not making sales, but what dawned upon us was the upcoming misery amongst people which we could somehow predict. We quickly made a decision over a few DMs and emails with Harteerath Singh, Director of Hemkunt, to join hands with Hemkunt Foundation to donate 30% of our revenues to them. This is a 100% transparent and non-profit initiative with them, and we were probably the first ones as a brand to do this with them (as they told us). This initiative quickly became an inspiration for more brands, and they also came forward to support Hemkunt. Many brand owners messaged us to ask about the procedure of getting an MOU with them, and we were more than happy to help. We hope to amplify this cause and raise as much as we can for the hardworking people at Hemkunt.
ELLE: What’s next for Mistry?
RK: Our next aim would be to move into a bigger workshop and open our own physical store along with it. We want our leather bags to be a tactile experience for our audience, and to be able to meet some of our lovely customers and patrons in real life would really be a dream come true!