Four Indie Fashion Labels To Watch Out For
Over the last few years, the growth of e-retail has encouraged indie designers to sell clothes and accessories via their own online stores or at trunk shows marketed almost entirely on the web. Their profusion is a boon for shoppers tired of mass-market brands. Here are our picks of four designers whose wares we believe will enrich your wardrobe.
Fans of bespoke accessories should check out this fledgling footwear brand from Pune. Since it was set up in August 2013, Cuero, named after the Spanish word for leather, has gained a considerable clientele without the aid of marketing or advertising. Instead, Cuero founder Naman Shah has depended on Instagram and Facebook, where he regularly uploads pictures of new styles. That’s where we noticed Cuero last year. Shah’s background, we were surprised to find, is all business. He has post-graduate diplomas in banking and finance and innovation and corporate entrepreneurship, but his flair for shoemaking, albeit without formal training, prevailed as a career choice.
Cuero, which is primarily a men’s label that occasionally crafts women’s shoes, offers two bespoke options. Customers can choose from existing styles and have them made-to-order or ask for a shoe to be designed from scratch in calf, buffalo, sheep or goat leather. Their USP is that the shoes, in styles such as Oxfords, monk-straps, sandals, lace-ups and moccasins, are hand-cut, hand-sewn and hand burnished. Their most iconic design is a pair of tan brogues, customisable for both men and women. Expectedly this level of custom design comes at a high price. Men’s shoes start at Rs9,000 and women’s at Rs5,500 per pair. You can schedule an appointment with Shah, who travels to Mumbai to meet clients once a month, via their Facebook page. It takes about three weeks for an order to be executed. Shoes are couriered on completion. Visit facebook.com/CueroLuxury.
One of the most eye-catching labels we came across at a trunk show at Coomaraswamy Hall last year was Doodlage. Run by the Delhi-based duo of Divisha Kashyap and Kriti Tula, Doodlage makes clothes that are colourful collages of prints. Kashyap and Tula “upcycle” clothes, that is, they make them from materials wasted by garment exporters. “We design the best out of waste and that remains the strength of the brand,” they said in an email interview. Kashyap and Tula chose the name Doodlage because like doodles, each of which is unique, all their pieces are one-of-a-kind.
They were inspired to start the label after completing college projects on sustainable fashion. As students, the idea of recycling material excited both Kashyap, an alumnus of the Northern India Institute of Fashion Technology in Mohali, and Tula, who went to the London College of Fashion. The pair met while working as assistants of Delhi designer Nandita Basu and in 2012 decided to put their idea into practice. Their incredible eye for arresting patterns and colours shows in their beautifully constructed and composed clothes that combine playful hues and prints with sophisticated cuts. Our favourite pieces include the embroidered jackets that recall tops worn by Gujarat farmers and the crop top and high-waist skirt sets. In Mumbai, Doodlage clothes, priced between Rs1,500 and Rs7,000, are sold at Creo in Kemp’s Corner, SoBo on Hughes Road and Bliss in Andheri. They also sell through their Facebook page. Visit facebook.com/doodlage.
The year-old Jodi, a label started by Mumbai-based fashion graduates and former Elle magazine staffers Gauri Verma and Karuna Laungani, stands out for its clean-cut contemporary designs and vibrant hand-block prints. For their first season, Verma and Laungani were inspired by the lush scenery of Vishakhapatnam to make clothes with geometric shapes featuring motifs of elephants, clouds, fish, kites, tropical flowers and plants. This pairing of colours, prints and patterns is central to their design aesthetic, hence the name Jodi. The name also refers to the fact that both women have twin siblings.
Jodi’s handloom cotton clothes, suited to the city’s perennial summer, have kept us loyal to the label. We love their culottes, T-shirt dresses, pencil skirts, crop shirts and pencil dresses, the prices of which range from Rs1,000 to Rs4,500. The label launches new designs every two months and is working on a menswear line and a range of lifestyle products. Visit Perniaspopupshop.com/designers/jodi.
Mumbai-based Runaway Bicycle has produced two editions of floaty cotton clothes since it was started in 2013. Not much changed in the second collection, aside from a hike in prices. But the lack of variety is unlikely to bother fans. “Our basic philosophy as a brand is simplicity,” said founder Preeti Verma, an art director with the ad agency DDB Mudra, who started the label to design the sort of clothes she likes to wear. Runaway Bicycle’s clothes, priced between Rs1,000 and Rs3,500, are mostly made of cotton fabrics that she procures from non-profit organisations in Bengal, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. Her collection of drop-waist dresses, skirts and pleated kedia-like tops might just fill you with the urge to gambol on a grassy riverbank.
You can buy Runaway Bicycle clothes from the label’s online store and at trunk shows. Verma said she might hold an exhibition in March to launch her third collection. The label is also available at Amethyst in Chennai, Sacha’s Shop in Panjim and Almari in Hyderabad. Visit runawaybicycle.in.