India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
June 21, 2016

The Unusual Story of How Andamen Came To Be

Text by Wyanet Vaz

Meet the couple who is making Indian embroidered shirts the next big thing

“We do less, but we must do it best.” With just 45 shirts in production, Satvika and Siddharth Suri of Andamen have been manufacturing high quality garments with traditional Indian weaves. They gave up their jobs in the States, only to be inspired by the Andaman islands and begin their own sweet venture. With shirts made from Egyptian Giza — the finest quality of cotton in the world, we find that an Andamen shirt has lustre and takes a top spot in breathable clothing. We quiz these trendsetters on their journey so far, and get tips on textile trends, Indian motifs and digital printing…

A bizarre memory…
Satvika: “How we got Andamen’s domain name! We realised that andamen.com was already taken by an American and buying domains these days can cost over a 1000 dollars. Sid then thought of a bizarre idea of mailing the owner. He pretended to be a teenager who had just come back after celebrating his dad’s 50th birthday in the Andaman islands, and wanted to get the domain to create memories of the celebrations. He wrote in his mail saying that, ‘My dad is only willing to give me 50 dollars to buy this domain’. And it worked, we got it for 50 dollars!”

The elephant in the room…
“Our creative philosophy is that great design is something that has a deeper meaning. Our brand’s mascot ‘Rajan’ is not just any elephant. He is the only ocean-swimming elephant in the Indian subcontinent. Today you can spot him at Havelock Island doing the unusual, defying the unexpected, and that’s what we do with our brand as well.”

The inspiration…
“Just like the islands, Andamen is about venturing beyond the motherland, yet staying resolutely Indian. It is that eternal duality of current and past, of Indian and Western, of unique and familiar that is in many ways a representation of today’s global contemporary Indian.”

The bestsellers…
“The Gold String shirt with vintage panels has over 2 lac embroidered stitches and takes 6 days to make. We constantly play with new techniques to make Indian patterns and stories more meaningful to our generation of gentlemen. Another great shirt from Andamen is Ghat 88 which has ancient Banarasi motifs made contemporary with innovative 21st century laser print technology.”

Key textile trends to watch out for…
“Superfine, distinct dobbies and fabrics with sheen that highlight the luxurious nature of textiles are big this season. We also love scattered, small motif jacquards and textural fabric bases.”

Luxe Indian weaves…
“Banarasi brocades – they are intricate jacquard patterns traditionally woven in gold and silver and are a sign of true magnificence.”

Pointers to keep in mind before you pick a shirt…
Siddharth: “First check the fabric. Great fabric just stands apart — I love vibrancy, finesse and the soft handfeel. Second, the workmanship.”
Satvika: “Thoughtful detailing – that’s really where the beauty of a shirt comes out. Especially when I’m gifting a shirt, I love little details which are masterfully combined.”

Shirts that you own…
“Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, Canali.”

Next destination on your list…
“Hemis Monastery in Ladakh. It is an ancient 11th century monastery that, at 12,000 feet, is the highest in the world. It has an exceptional collection of sacred thangkas and other artefacts in its 900-year-old museum.”

Upcoming projects…
“We’re working on launching our new collection titled ‘Tyohaar’. The designs are inspired from two unique festivals of India: The Hemis Festival of Ladakh, which is one of the most significant Buddhist festivals, and the Camel Festival of Jaisalmer. We have hand-painted and hand-sketched traditional motifs and contemporised them with digital printing.”

If not Andamen…
Satvika: “I would have opened a fitness academy. I’m very passionate about fitness and dance and pursued various new forms while I was in the States.”
Siddharth: “I would not have come back to India. I had a great job opportunity with Amazon in Seattle. Andamen is what made coming back to India the only choice.”

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