What happens when two siblings with a common love for fashion come together? They create a unique, modern and versatile collection, inspired by contemporary art, bold color schemes and clean construction. Ekaya Banaras’ new spring-summer collection – the Arohi X Ekaya – is just that and more.
While Palak Shah’s Ekaya Banaras brand is known for its emphasis on timeless tradition, the contemporary touch is infused by her younger sister and new collaborator, Aarohi, who brings with her an academic background from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York, and exposure to industry pillars like Oscar de la Renta and White Label by Proenza Schouler. The Instagram page of his label, Arohi, is devoted to contemporary and experimental silhouettes, using artisan techniques.
“The curtains are very modern with structured vertical lines. The collection includes experimental textiles and silhouettes keeping in mind the ever increasing demand for modern sarees and easy-to-wear ready-to-wear garments, combining craftsmanship and attention to detail, ”says Palak.
Getting Aarohi on board was not easy, says Ekaya Banaras CEO. Comfortable with Western designer clothes and anti-fit, textiles was an area she hadn’t explored. So, Aarohi’s initial reaction to the suggested collaboration was an emphatic “no”. But the older one wouldn’t give up so easily. After all, Ekaya enjoys working with people who have never worked with textiles before, because as Palak believes, “when you create with a new shape, you can achieve great results. It’s reminiscent of the brand’s earlier collaboration with designer Masaba Gupta – Ekaya X Masaba – which burst with pop colors and kitschy patterns.
Palak knew that Aarohi’s design sensibilities would add the bright side to Ekaya’s existing line. And indeed, the results are extraordinary. The collection includes experimental and youthful sarees exuding a crafty sense of texture and pattern. There are also timeless flowing silhouettes, hand-woven sarees, chic suits, bias cut skirts and coordinating sets in pop-colored organza. Boasting bright colors, the collection features 25 to 30 pieces, including colourways.
But if you are looking for the flora and fauna of the Ekaya brand, or even the traditional jangla work, you will be disappointed. Lavish Banarasi sarees and rich brocades give way to a youth-centric design vocabulary. “It has a palette that the modern Indian woman will feel comfortable donning,” says Palak. So which is Palak’s favorite? “The black and gray sarees with vertical lines, and of course, the pop colored organza sets,” she said instantly. The fact that Aarohi is also a painter imprinted his passion for colors in the collection.
India’s first hand-loom luxury brand that features some of the best Banarasis in the artisan’s repertoire, Ekaya draws on 120 years of heritage. Based on the principles of heritage and craftsmanship, the brand draws on traditional karigars and merges their expertise with the designers’ vision to deliver a new range of fresh produce that emphasizes luxury and l ‘timelessness. “We are trying to bridge the gap between weavers and the global market,” says the young CEO, who has worked with international luxury brands such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Missoni and Pierre & Daniel.
The pandemic has been tough for these designers who weave magic into textiles. “Of course it has been a very difficult time. But as a design house, we decided to continue working remotely. This has added to a range of innovative designs that we will be offering in the coming months, ”said the entrepreneur, adding that innovation is what drives her. “Unless you keep reinventing yourself, customers will lose interest in your products. You always have to be one step ahead, ”she smiles. The brand adapts traditions to the modern mindset. The bet, clearly, pays off.