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If there one bag designer every fashion fixture is looking at, it is Udaipur-based designer Vipul Shah. His intricately embroidered bags feature mirror work, tassels, fringes, and a spectrum of striking hues. An appeal that has found takers in everyone from Julia Roberts to Malaika Arora to Frieda Pinto.

Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah
Vipul Shah

Shah hails from a family that’s rooted in the textile business. His grandfather was passionate about archiving elaborate textiles and artwork from Afghanistan and Gujarat, and launched Udaipur’s famous Ganesh Emporium in 1984, a place Shah retails out of today. This family-owned repository became a prime source of inspiration and research for Shah when he returned from the UK after finishing his post-graduation in business studies. With an aim to take these handmade embroidery techniques forward, he launched his eponymous label in 2012.

Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah
Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah

Today Shah is working with upcycled fabrics sourced from several villages around Gujarat and Rajasthan. Every bag he creates represents a patchwork of hand-dyed processes, ornate cutout work, and embellishments. What started as a standard hobo structure for the ubiquitous jhola bag, has now become a brand specialising in clutches, belt bags, and even apparel.

Vipul Shah gave us a complete lowdown on his creative process and how his brand became a favourite among celebs.

Julia Roberts carrying a Vipul Shah clutch. Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah
Julia Roberts carrying a Vipul Shah clutch. Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah

On his brand ethos

Indo-gypsy fusion with a modern flair. Our label is synonymous with bohemian luxury that’s truly one of a kind. But, more importantly, it is an endeavour to preserve and sustain a very special tradition in the history of Indian handicrafts

On his creative process

Kajol carrying a Vipul Shah clutch. Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah
Kajol carrying a Vipul Shah clutch. Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah

Each bag is made from a unique fabric, with bespoke hand-sewn embroidery that is traditional to the craftsmen. The idea is to create perfect wedding bags and statement carryalls. To add a bit of drama, we add lavish embroideries of coins, tassels, and intricate beadwork.

Each design is inspired by vintage choli dresses, dowry pouches, wedding sashes, wall hangings, and antique tribal costumes dating as far back as the 19th century, which has been painstakingly collected from Rajasthan, Gujarat, and places bordering with Pakistan and the nearby tribal areas.

Lisa Ray carrying a Vipul Shah clutch. Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah
Lisa Ray carrying a Vipul Shah clutch. Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah

On his hero piece, the ‘banjara’ clutch

Our inspiration behind the oversized banjara clutch were the traditional Afghani costumes. Different versions of the same have been picked up by fashion’s front runners including Julia Roberts, Jessica Alba, Malaika Arora, Kajol Devgan, Angela Missoni, and many more.

On his forway into apparel design and other accessories 

Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah
Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah

For us, designing is an organic process. It grows intuitively each day as we experiment with new forms to accentuate the beauty of fabrics. Over the years, Vipul has expanded his designs to create a versatile collection featuring hobos, iPad cases, clutches, laptop bags, fringe bags, rucksacks, and apparels. It started with banjara gilets before eventually getting into full sleeves jackets, belts, shoes, and accessories.

On his future plans

I want to continue creating carryalls that tell the story of Indian tapestry and craftsmanship unlike any other. Currently, we are working on a line of embellished belt bags. The Diya belt bag and the Kutchi belt bag have already been launched.

Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah Bags Instagram
Image: Courtesy Vipul Shah Bags Instagram

Tips for millennials

Invest in collectibles. Be on a lookout for bags that aren’t just cool and contemporary but also reflect the rich history of Indian textiles.

Anupam Dabral
Sr. Associate Editor
It was while studying fashion journalism at London College of Fashion that Anupam developed a keen interest in the anthropological aspect of the discipline; for him, fashion only makes sense when seen in the context of its environment. He is always on the hunt for great stories, and in his spare time binge-watches films/shows starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.