We often consider handlooms as something that belong to crafts emporia or sold in exhibition halls. And perhaps this is how most of the country consumes textiles and artisanal decor items. Several fashion designers have come to the fore making handloom the mainstay of their creative genius, like Abraham &Thakore, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Raw Mango and Tulsi, for example. But here is a sumptuous new label that calls itself India’s first luxury handloom brand.
Ekaya is different from a designer brand, as even though its gorgeous stores occupy prime space in mega cities (New Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad), and they sell beautifully unique saris and dupattas in some of India’s finest textiles, especially the Banarasi, they also have bales of fabric for sale. Like traditional fabric shops, a customer seats herself down on an ivory mattress even as rolls of shimmering brocade are unfurled on her lap. The magic of this tangible, interactive way of shopping is irreplaceable, and has now turned into an experiential event.
“We’ve always considered textiles to be a product that’s easily available in the market, but its intricacies and artisanal effort were never considered,” says Palak Shah, the 31-year-old founder and CEO of Ekaya. “This is real luxury, but it is not sold as luxury or presented as luxury. When I studied in London, I saw how Chanel and Louis Vuitton were selling the artisanship of their country and I always wondered why we didn’t do the same in India. Every industry in India has something made by hand, and this is our luxury.”