Hermes, Christian Dior, and Louis Vuitton all share a special Indian connection that many of us don’t know about. All your favourite luxury brands bank on Indian ateliers to do intricate handiwork and embellishments for their catwalk and show-stopping products.
It’s no surprise that the fashion conglomerates rely on Indian companies to churn out luxury goods that require an exquisite eye for detail and intricate embroidery — a craft that Indian artisans are known to be masters of. The grandeur of Indian craftsmanship is a legacy passed down for generations that works towards binding creativity, labour, and tradition together. Providing a means of livelihood and keeping the magic of handicrafts alive, Indian ateliers have been exporting luxury embroidery and couture for some of your favourite designer bag and clothing brands.
While the cost of outsourcing to India is a reasonable consideration for made-in-France or made-in-Italy brands, this isn’t the sole reason that Indian craftsmanship is so highly regarded in the realms of fashion. Not only is the cost of production ten times higher than our European counterparts, but the breadth of Indian craftsmanship and artisanal excellence also remains unmatched.
Maximillano Modesti, the founder of Les Ateliers 2M, a Mumbai based luxury atelier revealed in an interview that, “...with the exception of Chanel and Hermes, there seem to be no other brands producing embroideries in France.’’ India’s craftsmanship reflects a royal legacy and innate knack for karigari (workmanship) that the western world fails to generate.
As a fashion enthusiast, I always grew up admiring the dazzling embroideries on couture ensembles by the likes of Versace and Zuhair Murad. It was only later after digging deep into archives and behind the stage sources that I realized that no fashion week footage or documentaries revealed the Indian ateliers designing these luxury couture pieces that displayed a made-in-Europe tag. Digging deeper and reconnecting with my country’s contribution to the world of global luxury has led me to recognise the immense amount of talent and craft knowledge that is being put into practice in our workshops and studios.
Using our platform to shed light on the famous karigars, Indian ateliers, and organised workshops; we aim to make our readers a tad more aware and appreciative of homegrown hands that weave together a world of luxury and undying craftsmanship.
I. Saks India
Back in the 80s and 90s when embroidery was a newly discovered concept for international designers, Saks India was founded by Sajjid Khan, one of the few artists who personally trained under fashion godfathers like Armani and Valentino, now an avid client of Saks but not the only ones in line.
The world-class embroidery deals with producing luxury and premium high fashion goods for brands like Emilio Pucci, Roberto Cavalli, Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, Marc Jacobs, Badgley Mischka, Christian Dior, Anne Barge, Elie Saab, and Balmain among others.
Translating creative handiwork and artisanal techniques into sustainable manufacturing approaches, Saks India takes a responsible craft language by using eco-friendly dyeing methods, converting plastic bottles into beads, re-purposing old paper waste into sequins, and much more.
II. Milaaya Embroideries
Milaaya roughly translates to ‘unite’ or ‘fusion’ in hindi, which aptly encapsulates the brand’s initiative to blend Indian craftsmanship with the global fashion avenue.
An expansive outreach that paces across major fashion capitals from Mumbai to Milan, Millaya partners with fashion houses like Roberto Cavalli, Gucci, and Versace. Specializing in intricate design techniques like zardozi and beadwork, the brand customizes couture beaded designs and embroidered staples like jackets, dresses, gowns, accessories and even bridal wear according to the requirements placed by designers.
Along with building an artistic synergy that is renowned worldwide, the company’s founder Gayatri Khanna candidly revealed in an interview that the company prides itself on maintaining transparency and working standards when it comes to implanting proper protocols and creating a safe and secure work atmosphere for the karigars (artisans).
III. Aamir Beading & Embroideries Pvt Ltd.
With six generations of a family-run business dedicated to preserving the art of hand embroidery and embellishment, Aamir is another such establishment preserving the lineage of artisans utilizing craft skills like zardozi and aari in their trade.
Their clientele boasts of renowned names that add to oomph to the runway every season such as the likes of Alexander McQueen, Ralph Lauren, Mary Katrantzou and Ellie Saab. Founded by Rizvi Zariwala who kick-started the family’s craft trade, the company found success when Zafar Zariwala commercialized the indispensable family business at a greater scale. Fourth in the lineage, he commercialized the artistry he learnt from his ancestors in Lucknow; passing it down to the next of his kin.
IV. Les Ateliers 2M
During his course as a fashion design student, Maximiliano Modesti became familiar with India’s expansive craft industry which led him to travel to India and study the luxury craft base up close.
Upon discovering a thriving craft tradition that deserved to be acknowledged worldwide, Modesti set up a craft studio Les Ateliers 2M, that employs artisans specializing in embroidery, printing, painting, and dyeing.
Cementing its position as a top supplier to luxury brands such as Alaia and Stella McCartney, the atelier aims to not only push the appeal of Indian handicrafts in the western world but also inspire people in India to open up to their own legacy of design and well as harness their creative DNA.
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