In an ever evolving market, what does it take for a label to register it’s presence? To start with, a strong narrative and a vision for the future help. But here are 5 new labels which are doing more than just fit in the vocabulary of being ‘cool’. While Malai has ventured into exploring sustainable materials by experimenting with bacterial cellulose, menswear label Bareek is making it’s mark by closely working with Indian weavers and promoting slow fashion. Just in case you were on a hunt for a perfect pair of heels or flats, Kaka Sumi is the label to check out.
Here is everything you need to know about these upcoming labels, set to make a mark.
Malai by Zuzana Gombosova and Susmith Suseelan
For Slovakia based material researcher and designer Zuzana Gombosova it was always about exploring the potential of microorganisms as a resource to create sustainable materials. She found her answers in bacterial cellulose, which she started growing and producing while studying at Central Saint Martin’s College of Arts and Design in London. Gombosova’s fascination with India and its capacity as an emerging market prompted her to change her base from London. She connected with Susmith Suseelan a Bangalore based mechanical engineer and product designer, who was interested in developing a similar material. They both partnered with a coconut processing unit and started developing their version of bacterial cellulose. Because it resembled the white flesh of the tender coconut, they called it ‘Malai’. After further research and development, they created a material which was completely biodegradable, flexible and water resistant, making it perfect to mould in a variety of accessories. Currently, they retail out of their website – made-from-malai.com
While growing up in Dimapur, fashion glossies became the only access to the world of luxury footwear for Kaka Sumi. Influenced by the likes of Spice Girls and footwear maestros such as Jimmy Choo and Christian Louboutin, Sumi charted out his aim. He wanted to create a homegrown footwear label which was edgy and elegant. He started crafting shoes early on, in his tenth grade itself. Since launching his eponymous label in 2017, Sumi’s vision has been to innovate. Be it creating beautiful mules or interesting thigh-high boots or using jute to be a part of his creative vocabulary, he has been pushing boundaries. However, leather remains to the material, he experiments with the most. He has also ventured out in footwear for men, and to suit the warm Indian climate has created his own renditions of gladiator flats.
Studio Rigu by Riya Gupta
‘Empowered feminity’, that’s how Riya Gupta sums up her label. Architectural silhouettes blend with India’s numerous textiles, result in some of the most exquisitely crafted power-suits, coat dresses and scaled trousers. With an uncompromising commitment to quality, Rigu is about edgy, contemporary pieces, which can fit any discerning working woman’s wardrobe. Launched in 2017, Gupta post finishing her graduate course from London College of Fashion saw a gap in the Indian market; there were hardly any labels creating powerful pieces but with a tinge of fun. So, Gupta with her whimsical prints and a striking colour palate created Rigu.
Forth Goods by Varun Panesar
Minimal, functional yet sophisticated, that’s how one can sum up products by Forth Goods. Launched by Varun Panesar, with a vision to built something unique, his label is inspired by structures inspired by basic geometry. Made in fine grain leather with the vegetable tan in neutral hues; and coupled with printed canvass, the backpacks, wallets, slingbacks and laptop bags age gracefully. Besides these are a number of options available at its online shop. Also, just in case you are on a lookout for perfect leather bow ties, Forth Goods always has some great pieces.
Bareek by Aman Singh
Classic buttoned-down shirts, tasteful yet limited choices and an overall sense of responsible fashion, that’s how one would describe Aman Singh’s label Bareek. Unlike so many becoming a part of the sustainability bracket, Bareek ensures that the weavers become the focal point of ethical fashion’s ever-evolving conversation. Every shirt, be it cotton or khadi is created on a non-mechanized loom, always woven by an artisan. The process involves the creative team travelling door-to-door, in search of the best craftsmen in the towns of Nalgonda, Murshidabad and Kalna to create hand-woven shirts. Singh’s foray into fashion happened with ECHT (which in German translate to true, genuine and real), a weavers collective focusing on the pieces created by some of the best Indian weavers. The demand gradually grew, not just in India but internationally too and Bareek took shape. Today, the label is characterised by its edgy colourways, sophisticated prints and a sense of old world charm.