India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Fashion
October 31, 2018

10 Under-The-Radar Homegrown Labels For The New-Age Minimalist

Text by Sadaf Shaikh

These niche designers are allowing you to indulge your love for khadi palazzos, ikat pantsuits and cotton angrakhas….

It wouldn’t be too far off the mark to say that many women these days are eschewing traditional festive wear for ensembles that exude an understated elegance. Besides wanting to avoid the hassle of dressing up to the nines in the sweltering heat, the reason for this newfound love for minimalist clothing could also stem from the fact that many of the labels retailing them have vowed to conduct themselves in an ethical and sustainable manner. In the last couple of years, many enlightened consumers have switched to a completely sustainable lifestyle and while these labels are definitely good for the environment, they also have a vibe that appeals to the self-possessed, ‘woke’ woman who takes the philosophy of ‘less is more’ to a whole new level.

The Third Floor Clothing

The story: Sequestered in a 150-year-old warehouse in Colaba where ships used to offload cotton yarn, Saloni Sakaria’s labour of love is quite literally christened after the floor on which her showroom is situated. Being a conscientious chap, the owner only agreed to let the place out to her if she swore a solemn oath to create sustainable clothing. At present, Sakaria purely employs the use of textiles in her ensembles, from linens, silks and organza to tussars and Chanderi but hopes to work with Khadi and cotton soon. Having showcased at the latest edition of Lakme Fashion Week, the 26-year-old has already managed to attract the interest of the likes of Sonam Kapoor who recently stepped out in one of the label’s trademark matching separates.

Verve loves: Layered separates in monotone hues.

Buna

The story: Buna’s showcase at Lakme Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2018 a couple of months ago was a breath of fresh air in a sea of embellished festive wear. The brainchild of Pallavi Shantam, a fashion graduate from NIFT, Buna is named after the Hindi word for ‘woven’ and stems from the designer’s love for Indian crafts, slow fashion and sustainable design. If you are someone that is forever on the lookout for pastel outfits in billowing silhouettes, Buna’s aesthetic will instantly strike a chord with your low-key wardrobe preferences.

Verve loves: A white pinafore in luxurious khadi with geometric lines, engineered pleating and red tassels.

Bennch

The story: A thoroughly underrated label that that glides effortlessly from the functionality of office wear to the elegance of the evening, Bennch takes pride in creating designs that do not beg for attention but commands it anyway. Toeing the line between simple design and eye-catching prints, the outfits are a practice in reinventing classics in a way that allows the wearer to feel comfortable in the lack of fussiness and elevated due to the cool, deconstructed silhouettes.

Verve loves: A relaxed wabi-sabi-inspired shirt dress.

Tahweave

The story: Tahweave is a brand that is affordable and environmental-friendly at the same time, an anomaly for most labels that come with the conscientious tag. Although the brand isn’t conventionally minimalist in its aesthetic — you won’t see too many free-flowing, white pieces here — there’s still something about the outfits that is charmingly fresh. Founders Sweta Tantia and Priyangshu Maji specially visited the textile hubs of Bengal like Phulia and Shantipur and personally picked out the weaves they wanted to incorporate into their collections. Such efforts go a long way in ensuring that the outfits turn out exactly the way you’ve envisioned them and this comes through in the way that Tahweave’s patrons wax eloquent about the label.

Verve loves: An intricately quilted silk and organza trenchcoat worn over a dress.

Aureole

The story: Founded in 2017 by Kunal Virwani and Aditi Mohoni, Aureole retails out of an airy studio in Kalaghoda, a space that is as fuss-free and easy-going as the ensembles it houses. It doesn’t take much to take an instant liking to the label — one look at their Instagram feed and you will find yourself imagining how you could pull off every outfit with panache. Aureole’s aesthetic is almost fairytale-like; you can rest assured that you will hear the sounds of nature when you wear their clothes — be it the gentle swaying of trees in the wind or the sweet sounds of chirping birds.

Verve loves: A cream pant-suit that is far from austere.

IYLA

The story: Iyla was founded by Shreya Anand, an alumna of London College of Fashion and a celebrity fashion stylist whose years of experience in dressing modern Indian women allowed her to hit the sweet spot between fashion and functionality with her own label. From the warp and weft of a fabric to the way it twists, unfolds and envelops the body, Iyla will appeal to every woman who takes real pleasure in dressing up but wants to be seen as laid-back and mysterious. Channelling handcrafted fabrics into creating khadi palazzos and ikat pantsuits, Iyla promises to cater to your every mood and whim.

Verve lovesA red dress that is all simple-in-the-front-party-at-the-back.

The Plavate

The story: Meenu K. Tiwari’s label is an adorable (and successful) attempt at using clothes to take you back to your childhood. Comprising solely of linen garments in bright monotone palettes, Plavate’s offerings are made up of simple silhouettes that are airy and comfortable. An added feather in the designer’s hat is the advertising degree that allows her to appreciate the importance of simplicity in design and communication. In case you were wondering why Tiwari decided to call her label ‘Plavate’, it’s Sanskrit for ‘flow’ and underlines her cyclical philosophy of borrowing from the earth and giving back to it.

Verve loves: A woven Jamdani pinafore with a generous serving of polka dots.

The Loom Art

The story: Retailing out of Jaipur, Loom Art invites you to invest in the cause of giving handlooms a new lease of life by employing the use of hand-embroidery and handspun textiles. And although the label is delighted to preach and practise sustainability, it does so without compromising on the style quotient. In fact, Loom Art’s outfits can command a worthy space in the ‘special occasion’ section in your wardrobe owing to its rich hues and dreamy silhouettes.

Verve lovesA Victorian-style powder blue silk dress that transports you to an era of elegance.

Taaka Clothing

The story: A homegrown label that is as conscientious towards its employees as it is towards the environment, Taaka’s clothes are created by artisans and weavers that are ethically paid and empowered with good working conditions and constant growth within the organisation. With a special emphasis on embroidery à la Péro, the garments are best worn slightly loose and this isn’t only for the wearer’s benefit. In fact, it’s an effort to minimise wastage and discarding of garments simply because they aren’t one specific size which is why most of the garments have extended drop shoulders slotting the styles into two or three sizes.

Verve loves: A cotton shift dress featuring the label’s trademark window pane hand embroidery.

Chokhi Chorri

The story: Giving off a much-loved Eka-esque vibe, Chokhi Chorri’s aesthetic is elegant and contemporary in equal measure, their popular angrakha’s even being glamorous enough to wear to festive occasions. Chokhi Chorri is Marwari for ‘beautiful woman’ because that’s exactly how they believe their customers feel when they try on their clothes. Founded by NIFT graduate Ankita Agarwal, the label offers tunics, kurtas, shirts, dresses, tops and bottoms in earthy tones and employs the use of sustainable fabrics like khadi, ahimsa silk, voile and linen to breathe life into their designs. A thorough preacher of responsible fashion, Agarwal and her team of eight artisans also upcycle surplus fabrics and threads by making scarves and decorative tassels out of them.

Verve loves: A grey kurta dress with gathered pleats on the waistline and sleeves.

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