Traditional Banarasi weaves have an evergreen charm. From their striking colour schemes and motifs to a variety of textures they are available in, the repository of options is brimming. There are a few labels who are taking traditions forward and updating the idea of a Banarasi sari. With their contemporary prints and patterns, these labels are shining the spotlight on Banarasi saris.
For Aanchal and Akshita Sagar, their label Ohfab came as an opportunity to connect with their roots. They closely work with the craftsmen and weavers in Varanasi experimenting and creating some of the most exquisite Banarasi saris. However, they also specialise in lighter renditions; think Banarasis fused with Bengal’s jamdani, and evergreen lightweight dupattas featuring a spectrum of intricate embroideries. Their light Banarasi Tanchoi saris are pure collectibles. Besides this, they also create a variety of lighter, easy-to-carry saris with Banarasi borders.
Launched in 2016, Tilfi is all about celebrating traditions yet keeping the discerning clients of today in the loop. Needless to say, their beautiful Banarasi saris are nothing less than heirlooms. However, it is their modern take on tradition that makes them unique. Most of their experiments are around design. For instance, their Kashi sari, which features motifs inspired by the ghats. They have also experimented with their dyeing techniques, count tie-and-dye techniques, shibori, and hand-painted patterns. Certainly, one of the more promising Banarasi saris labels to watch out for.
Want a more interesting silhouette? Remaining true to the traditional weaves, ace Indian designer Payal Khandwala creates the most sumptuous pantsuits, waistcoats, and lehengas in Banarasi. Even though she believes in keeping traditions alive, she also likes to give them a more millennial-approved take.
Headed by Amrit Shah, Shanti Banaras is a one-stop destination for Banarasi textile aficionados. One can expect a variety of exquisite saris, lehengas, and ethnic ensembles from them. Their interventions mostly are with design motifs (think resham geometricals). These are a combination of dampaj and satin weaves, where the shuttle is pressed only to its half capacity and multiple wefts are pushed through it at once, creating a painting-like an impact on the sari.
Looking for something different yet evergreen in a Banarasi? Ace textile designer Kshitij Jalori might have some answers. One look at his social media feed will give you a peek into his take on traditional weaves; of course, there is the ode to old-school festive saris, but there are also lightweight kurtas, tunics, dresses, jackets, sharp pantsuits and more. Be it experimenting with real gold and silver in his zari or creating new, contemporary patterns and art-deco inspired prints, Jalori’s take on the traditional Banarasi is one-of-a-kind.
A label started by NIFT graduate Deeksha Sharma, Via East’s collection spans a large variety of saris, the Banarasi included. We find it to be a modern Indian label even as its products are rooted in traditional craftsmanship. What’s particularly eye-catching is how the brand styles its saris — visit the site to see unusual sari-blouse colour combinations.
This label has been customising bridal trousseaus for over two decades now, and their repository is a rich one. If the traditional Banarasi is what you are looking for, head to the brand’s Instagram page, where you will find everything from Khinkhwab to Shikargah to boota patterned saris is vibrant jewel tones. Also on offer are lehengas and menswear.
This is a brand we discovered on influencer Ishita Sudha Yashvi’s feed. Megha is a small business owner and takes pride in that, modeling her creations that toe the minimal-yet-striking line. You’ll find here a range of handloom saris in solid colours for a discerning sari lover. Megha designs all the saris and what we also love are the readymade blouses she creates. DM her on Instagram for design and price queries.
Founder Kalyani Shahi, a chartered accountant, started the label in 2017 as an idea to make handloom saris available to the masses. Starting with a small unit in Bihar mainly in Tussar silk, today her e-commerce site features saris by artisans across India. On the Chakori Ethnic site, you’ll find everything from linen to Banarsis to Kota Doria, Chikankari, Shibori Shahi and more, and the brand’s Instagram account is where you’ll find Shahi styling and modeling most of the designs, something that has gone a long way in building their 191K following.
Delhi Vintage Co.’s website states that the brand “combines the traditional with the ‘not-so'”, and one look at their designs is enough to prove this. The Delhi Vintage Co’s intricate weaves and rich tapestry will take you down memory lane, while its imagery could well be out of an art book. Founder Manish Chhabra is the third generation keeping the family’s work with artisans and handlooms alive. You can visit the brand store at Dhan Mill Compound in Delhi for trousseau shopping, while the label is stocked at Aza and Ogaan.
Based in Banaras, this is a brand that has all versions of the Banarasi on offer, including, katan and satin silk, chiffon georgette, tissue etc. Just about a year-and-a-half old, their price range traverses the affordable to the exotic, and there is a wide range to choose from here.
Focusing on the legacy of the loom and the weaves they produce, Sacred Weaves also has a large repository to choose from, but it was their ‘Vintage Banarasi’ section that caught our attention. Featuring detailed, heavy weaves, these saris are the heirlooms that you hand down the generations.
Gulati Editions is one of Chandigarh’s most legendary sari stores, but online you can shop through their Instagram handle. At the helm is the father-daughter duo Hitesh and Varnika Gulati, and we highly recommend this label for those who are trousseau shopping, since their rich, detailed designs will suit the purpose perfectly. In particular, their Banarasi jangla designs are ones we haven’t been able to ignore.
Here’s a perfect millennial label that takes the heaviness of Banarasi saris and makes it whimsical with fun colour combinations, silhouettes, and styling ideas. On offer are saris and lehengas, and though the flagship store is in Shahpur Jat, Delhi, you can reach out to them through their Instagram handle for product details and pricing. You can also reach out to them on +91 11 2331 4751
Roliana Weaves is the brainchild of Roli and Vikash Mehra, who treat their designs as heirlooms and collectibles. The brand descends from the century-old Roshan Lal Sarees Group, who have been associated with top haute couture labels like Ralph Lauren and Elie Saab. You can view their offerings — beautiful weaves that will appeal all age groups — on their Instagram handle, and to book an appointment, either DM them on Instagram or call +91 93357 93616.
All images: Courtesy brands
Hero image: Courtesy Ohfab Instagram
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