A Mumbai-based duo from Toronto is breathing new life into old embroidery.
It’s a fitting headquarters for a motley crew of designers, artists, musicians and thinkers who count among their pursuits music videos, a blog, a clothing line or two, and a supper club. The squat three-storey structure deep in Chuim village, where sleeping dogs and an errant rooster are part of the permanent landscape, houses assorted members of this crew called WETHEPPL (of which musician/actress Monica Dogra is a sometime contributor). It was here, in a studio littered with samples and collages and members who go under names like Doctor Saab and Engineer Bhai that the Camiz project was born, a line of unisex cotton shirts that has slowly gained cult status among artists and other hipsters of the trade. It’s their newest line, however, called “NorBlack NorWhite” that has the better chance of crossing over into the sartorial mainstream. Founded by two members of the ever-changing collective, Amrit Kumar, 28, and Mriga Kapadiya, 28, the line is an ode to the traditional bandini and embroidery work seen in Kutch. The pieces—buttery-soft “boyfriend” shirts, dainty bandhani camisoles and vintage capelets—make up an elegant capsule collection that will be sold at Le Mill, the 15,000 sq. ft. concept boutique slated to open in Masjid Bunder next month.
Kumar and Kapadiya are friends who met in Toronto, where they both grew up and dabbled in fashion and arts-related fields. Kumar worked at a vintage store where she refashioned old pieces, and Kapadiya helped organise a music and arts festival. It was only after they moved to Mumbai two years ago, that the duo decided to check out Kutch after a random Internet search led them to Kala Raksha, a social organisation devoted to preserving traditional arts and embroidery. There, a chance meeting with the American founder led to the inception of “NorBlack NorWhite”. The line is so called because “this project is in a grey space,” says the duo. “[It’s] part anthropology, part fashion, part textile, part history and adventure. Not this nor that.”
Kumar and Kapadiya worked with artisans on special hand-printed textiles and designs, keeping the method but updating the style. Thus, a traditional orange and white bandhani print is used for a slippery cotton-satin shirt, a beaded neck piece meant for cows is a Freida Kahlo-esque capelet, and a vintage mirror-embroidered bag is updated with a link chain. Because the pair often couldn’t find the same material again, the first collection of the line has only 18 pieces. The next collection, which will focus on brocades, zardozi and chikan work, will be launched in the fall. In the meantime, if you can’t wait for Le Mill, you can drop into the girls’ studio for a personal order by contacting them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Prices range from Rs4,000 to Rs9,000.Tags: Amrit Kumar, Fashion, Le Mill, Mriga Kapadya, Nor Black Nor White, Special Top Story, Wetheppl