In a world that thrives on being connected — Shikha Grover and Vinita Adhikari of Ilk — a brand moving towards becoming sustainable — are urging people to disconnect, one khadi garment at a time
By Asmita Aggarwal
It’s never easy to take the plunge. To step out of the comfort of a job, to bet on yourself in a time where you’re constantly reminded that you’re not good enough (say thanks to Instagram’s picture-perfect world) — it’s always easier said than done. But, Shikha and Vinita decided to give themselves two years to make their brand, Ilk, a success, after working for veteran Indian designers Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna. And, much like their brand name, they do everything in unison — designing, marketing and sales.
So, Shikha, a graduate from Pearl Academy and Vinita, who has studied Fashion Design at NIFT, started their brand in 2011. They didn’t know if it’ll work but thankfully, it did! “We met while working for Rohit Gandhi & Rahul Khanna. After a year, Vinita moved out. And, in two years, I left as well. We thought we should give it a shot. We had certain ideas in our minds and we were good as a team,” says Shikha. They now have a studio in Noida and retail from multi-designer stores like Ogaan, Elahe and Aza.
Their learnings at a design house like Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna helped them take their brand forward. “When we had joined, we were just graduates from college. We learnt a lot about clothes, how they should be wearable, getting the details right and even about subtlety. It was easy for us to get whacky or go overboard with design at that stage. But, working there helped us narrow down our approach. I think that has helped shape our brand as well,” elaborates Vinita.
Their upcoming collection is reminiscent of the good ol’ times when phone screens were still grey and our lives didn’t revolve around one manic device. “Our collection is called #Offline It’s taken from the idea that we must disconnect from the virtual world to connect with reality. These days we’re so involved in our phones that half of our time is wasted using it. We miss the times when we were not so connected to this device. So, we have used a lot of Chord embroidery and linear patterns. And, a lot of dot embroideries with celestial-looking textures. We’ve used earthy fabrics like khadi and we’ve also tried to give it an urban look with handmade textures and embroideries,” explains Shikha.
In addition to this, they’ve also designed Khadi trench coats, which they think is perfect for Indian weather. #Offline will also feature woolen blouses and elasticated saris. Everything has a handspun feel to it. Their aim, ultimately, is to give a global look to Indian techniques.This does not mean that they don’t use social media platforms for digital marketing — a crucial tapping point for any brand. However, “There are times when we are very regular but there are times when we’re not online — but we don’t panic about it. Of course, the reach is better with social media. We get more queries when we’re active. But, that’s not the soul of our brand,” adds Vinita.
This is the reason that they’re now very cautious about how their clothing has been impacting the environment and they also feel that Indian designers, as a collective, are becoming conscientious of their surroundings. The duo is also very excited about their upcoming show, especially because of the revamped runway at Amazon India Fashion Week. “I feel it’ll help designers in presenting in a better way on the ramp, which is wider and made of wood this time. And, I think all the shows will look more grand,” concludes Vinita.