March 16, 2019 Asmita Aggarwal

Sound of Music

Amrich ideates around their signature Shibori, to create comfortable clothing inspired by African textile, circular shapes and the rock and roll era

When two NID graduates, Amit Vijaya and Richard Pandav came together to launch ‘Amrich’, they set a motto for their brand. It was, ‘elegance of simplicity, beauty of handmade and indulgence of comfort.’ The brands ability to remain true to this motto has earned them a status of supreme quality and understated luxury. With a minimalistic identity, textile treatments of exceeding quality and an exploration of natural fabrics, the label reflects the richness of Indian handlooms and craftsmanship.

Although the brand launched in 2011, the creative partnership between Amit and Richard had already established a strong foundation at the National Institute of Design in Ahemdabad. Graphic designer from Kolkata, Amit, came to Gujarat after having been seduced by the world of Indian textiles, while working on several promotional design work projects for textile and garment companies. While he pursued an education in Textile Design, Richard, a graduate in Information Technology and Computer Application, begun his post graduation in Apparel Design and Merchandising.

This creative partnership grew through collaborations, squabbles, differences and most importantly – great design. A turning point in what would eventually become their career was their first large-scale showcase. “We had gone with the mindset that it was a student showcase. The collection however, attracted international interest, demand and enquiries. We weren’t geared for production, and so could not deliver. With this came the realization that the industry is not solely about glitz and glamour, but also challenges, troubles and toil,” says Amit.  

It was this realization that pushed the duo towards treading the unexplored territories of the fashion space, through consultancies of all kinds. “We created pieces for the Khadi Gram Udyog that were required to sell under Rs.1000, and on the other end of the spectrum, created couture clothing for Ravissant in Delhi. We were working towards gaining exposure; building our portfolio and learning the ropes of the business. Consulting on different projects also gave us an understanding of what we wanted to do eventually, and how to do it,” says Amit.

The launch of Amrich was marked with Shiro Hairo, their Spring Summer 2011 collection, which was a fresh take on the Indian technique of shibori. “We sent our collection to seven stores around the country, five of whom showed interest within the first week. The quick interest was because the collection was fresh. Not many design houses were ideating around and further, creating their own clamps to do shiboriwith. It was happening sporadically across the country, and even less on a commercial level,” he says.

Today, Amrich gears up to present a rich showcase of never seen before versions of Shibori at LMIFW’19, that create patterns influenced by ancient African avatars and the ‘80s glam rock era.“For autumn-winter, we wanted to go back to our brands classic take on Shibori. The idea was to keep the collection muted, minimal yet sophisticated and statement making. Shibori is used in a variety of ways, from creating a pattern of an African animal motif, to mimicking the appearance of a reverberating circle,” he says. The designers have attempted at graphically representing the rhythmic appearance of what they call, ‘circles that reverberate’ and translated it in Shibori.

The collection, titled ‘Pattern Play’, is an experimentation of atypical fabrics with classic techniques manipulated to create contemporary forms, patterns and movements. “The ‘play’ in the title refers to the graphic symbol on any Walkman or record player, which throughout its many interpretations has stayed close to the forward and rewind buttons.

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Similarly, if you see the collection, you will notice influences from past eras, which have been presented in a way that can be taken forward to the future,” he says.

With ‘Pattern Play’, they envision a duo toned future, using the classic black and white combination, along with brighter permutations of scarlet red, aquamarine and olive green. “Beyond the usage of colour on the fabric, what will be exciting to see is the way we have created pairings of strong colours in a way that they ultimately complement each other,” says Amit.

Adding to the affair of mix and match will be separates made from a variety of fabrics, paired together to create multi-layered ensembles that reflect the essence of the ‘80s Rock and roll era.  “We had to consider that the customers in our primary market (India) barely see a harsh winter. This is why we created a variety of separates made from boiled wool, silk wool blend, lightweight wools and heavy wools. Khadi cottons have also been manipulated into a construction that makes them slightly thicker and warmer,” he adds.

Other ingenious creations include shaded thread embroideries to mimic plaid patterns and metallic sequin and beadwork, which the designer claims are ‘minute enough to be mistaken for a print’.

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 This flair for researching traditional weaves and developing them to create contemporary forms and shapes is what has guaranteed the duo a stable space in an unpredictable market. The label not only expresses an undying love for handspun textile, but also the communities that pass on priceless crafts for generations. “Amrich sources from states all over the country including Gujarat, Bengal and Madhya Pradesh being a few. The highlight of this upcoming collection however, is the use of khadi and silk woven textiles developed by us with the weavers of Bihar. We’re very proud of this association with the Srijani Foundation, that has enabled this exchange of crafts and services,” he says.

Armed with strong design ideologies, sustainable values and contrasting yet complementary creative ideas, Richard and Amit follow nothing but creative fulfillment. “As much as we may keep tabs on international trends, they seem slightly redundant because we work with Indian textiles. We have to see within Indian textiles to pinpoint what is exciting us in a particular season, and what silhouette, cuts and concepts will work with it, ” says Amit. This constant urge to create is uncorrupted by the greed to be highly profitable. With a very restrained online presence, the brand has managed to retail from retail spaces such as Ensemble and Ogaan.

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A marketing aspect like this too, traces back to the brand motto of embracing the beauty of the handmade. “Our clients and distributors have told us that when they see, feel and wear our garments they want to keep coming back for more. The detail, finishing and quality of an elaborately developed fabric is impossible to communicate online. No matter how hard you try,” says Amit. And so, in a country where a vast majority of buyers may prefer unforgiving silhouettes and sparkling trousseaus that change every season, Amrich finds comfort in creating elegant and thinking silhouettes. In no hurry to expand online and chase profits, the duo makes it clear that their purpose remains in weaving together a narrative that tells the tale of the glorious Indian textile.

 

 

 

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