Bazaar Czars: The Founders Of The City’s Best Shopping Fests

The shopping season, which is just around the corner, is when a series of bazaars and flea markets take place across the city, offering shoppers a smorgasbord of fashion, accessories, stationery and home ware by local labels. We spoke to the founders and curators of some of Mumbai’s most popular bazaars.

Radhika Dhawan and Maya Goel.

Radhika Dhawan and Maya Goyel.

Radhika Dhawan, who runs a fashion related marketing and consultancy firm and her cousin Maya Goyel, the Indian distributor of the Brazilian shoe brand Melissa set up Back Alley Thrift Shop, a series of shopping events in 2013 to raise funds for charity. The duo retails new and pre-worn apparel and accessories at the exhibitions, the proceeds of which are donated to a different charity each time. For Dhawan and Goyel, who are compulsive shoppers by their own admission, the Thrift Shop was a way to de-clutter their own wardrobes.

The loot: The partners crowd-source wares from family, friends and extended networks by word of mouth. In the past, they’ve gathered high street and luxury labels such as Zara, DKNY, DVF, Boss, ASOS, River Island, BCBG and even vintage Givenchy and John Galliano. At the sales, you might come across bags by Tod’s, Michael Kors, Coach, Gucci, Furla and Fendi and occasionally a pair of Prada or Versace sunglasses.

Prices: Range from Rs100 to Rs3,000 for a luxury buy.

Frequency: Every year, they hold summer and pre-Diwali sales. The next one is slated to take place on Saturday, November 26 and Sunday, November 27 at Ave 29 in Kemps Corner. See the Facebook page for more information.

Parul Gupta and Radhika Gupta.

Parul Gupta and Radhika Gupta.

Founders: Mumbai-residing, fashion-loving cousins Parul and Radhika Gupta set up Black Taxi in 2011. Their company is called Black Taxi because emerging designers use their events to liaise with buyers and stylists. They’re thus “the taxi helping designers reach the end consumer”, said Radhika Gupta. The duo has two properties under the Black Taxi banner: Fashion & Works is a bi-annual exhibition and sale that typically features close to 60 clothes and accessories designers who showcase new labels and collections, and the annual The Blowout Sale, at which designers offer samples and old collections at discounts of up to 70 per cent. The Blowout Sale takes place in Mumbai and Fashion & Works has editions in Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh. The popular exhibitions draw up to 4,000 people a day.

The loot: Owing to their penchant for one-off fashion pieces and focus on “affordable luxury”, the duo scouts for well-priced boutique, homegrown labels selling bags, shoes, costume jewellery and casual and formal western and Indian wear. Clothing labels such as Roha by Vibhuti Behl and RuVya by Ruchika & Divya have been launched at the Fashion & Works sale in Mumbai.

Prices: Range from Rs2,500 to Rs30,000.

Frequency: The bi-annual Fashion & Works exhibition and sale is slated to take place on Friday, October 14 at Blue Sea in Worli. See the Facebook event page for more information.

Laila Vaziralli.

Laila Vaziralli.

Founders: Friends Laila Vaziralli and Diva Ganeriwal started Kitsch Mandi as an experiment in Bangalore in 2011. They felt that the fine art world was too niche and unaccessible to a wider audience. The idea was to create a platform to showcase emerging artists. Ganeriwal quit the company in 2015. The bazaar, which now has editions in Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi, is managed by Vaziralli.

The loot: Vaziralli looks for innovation, originality and sustainability in design while picking artists. At the mandi, which draws up to 5,000 people a day, you will find scrap metal objects, recycled paper products, jewellery, fashion accessories for men, stationery, ceramics and illustrations among other things. The mandi has been a launchpad for brands such as Pigtails and Ponys (hair accessories); Illustration Much (art work); and Root Bazaar (homemade beauty products such as scrubs, lip balm and toothpaste).

Prices: Pay what you want for a photograph to Rs4,000 for a pair of silver earrings.

Frequency: Kitsch Mandi is held once a year in Mumbai. The next edition is slated to take place from Friday, November 18 to Sunday, November 20 as part of the Celebrate Bandra festival at D’Monte Park in Bandra West. Check the Facebook page for updates.

Dhimaan Shah and Archana Walavalkar.

Dhimaan Shah and Archana Walavalkar.

Founders: The annual apparel and accessories-focused shopping bazaar is an extension of, a website that offers personal shopping and styling services. Founders Dhimaan Shah, who was previously an investment banker and Archana Walavalkar, a Bollywood stylist and former fashion editor at Vogue India, launched the event in 2013, the same year they started the online business, so that their customers could “touch and feel” the brands recommended on their website. In addition to the Borough, which is also held in Pune and Delhi, the duo runs the The Stylecracker Borough Night Market, which was introduced this year.

The loot: The Borough showcases both established designers and fresh talent. In the past, the duo has launched first collections by fashion designer Arpita Mehta, men’s accessory label Gentleman’s Community, costumer jewellery brand Shop Lune and clothing label Ginil & Disha.

Prices: Range from Rs500 to Rs7,000 at the night market and go up to Rs40,000 at the Stylecracker Borough.

Frequency: In Mumbai, Stylecracker Borough is held thrice a year and the night market is held annually. The next Borough is slated to take place on Saturday, November 26 and Sunday, November 27 at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. Check the Facebook page for updates.

Alankar Jain and Priyanka Punjabi.

Alankar Jain and Priyanka Punjabi.

Founders: The city’s largest and most popular flea was set up by Alankar Jain and Priyanka Punjabi. We wanted to “address the gaps in Mumbai, where underground creativity was flourishing, but wasn’t reaching a larger audience”, said Punjabi. Jain, an IIT graduate and Punjabi, a former HR professional, were partners at a production house founded by Jain. They held the first The Lil Flea in 2014. The bazaar gets over 40,000 people over three days. They now spend all their time managing the annual event and its offshoots, The Lil Art and Flea Collective and The Lil Flea Hangover that were launched in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

The loot: Jain and Punjabi pick over 250 brands retailing apparel, accessories, home decor, stationery and collectibles from Mumbai and across India. While it started out primarily as a shopping exhibition, The Lil Flea has grown to include a robust food section featuring stalls by home cooks and upcoming brands. Sky Goodies, a brand that specialises in paper products, fusion food chain Desi Deli, Pack-a-Pav, a pao sandwich-focused QSR, and Cool Story, a cold beverages shop got breaks at The Lil Flea.

Prices: The Lil Flea is a decidedly price conscious bazaar. Shopping goods range from Rs50 for stationery to Rs10,000 for apparel; food items cost between Rs60 and Rs300.

Frequency: The Lil Flea is typically held thrice a year between between October and March. The next instalment is slated to take place from Friday, October 21 to Sunday, October 23 at the MMRDA Ground in BKC. See the Facebook event page for more information.

Aarti Patkar.

Aarti Patkar.

Founder: The Vintage Garden is a shopping exhibition held in an 1,800 square feet backyard of a 1920s colonial-style bungalow in Bandra. In 2013, the al fresco space was repurposed into an exhibition venue by Aarti Patkar, whose family owns the bungalow. The Vintage Garden, which gets its name from Patkar’s 1931 Model A Ford (parked in the bungalow), has three garage-sized rooms, a wooden staircase that leads down from the bungalow and an outdoor area shaded by mango and badam trees, all of which are aesthetically utilised during shopping events curated by Patkar.

The loot: Patkar invites brands and designers from whom she would shop. She aims to have something for every kind of shopper and typically invites two brands from outside Mumbai and showcases two new brands per event. Shoe label The Sole Sisters, clothing brand Chola The Label and home made dips brand Mamakutti were launched at The Vintage Garden. In addition to putting together exhibitions, Patkar also rents the space to “brands that match her sensibilities”. Colaba lifestyle store Bungalow 8 and Nicobar, the lifestyle store by Good Earth in Kala Ghoda have exhibited their wares here in the past.

Prices: Range from Rs500 to Rs50,000.

Frequency: The Vintage Garden is typically held once a month from October to May. The next one is slated to take place on Saturday, October 15 and Sunday, October 16. See the Facebook page for more information.


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