March 18, 2021 Asmita Aggarwal

The Treasure Principle

Kashmir forms the backdrop of Huemn’s line as French knots, aari and ring knots enliven heavenly landscapes

By Asmita Aggarwal

The pandemic has revealed many sides of ourselves—some found love in nature, others wisdom in solace while Pranav Mishra of Huemn converted his ebullient personal experiences into a book. While his co-founder Shyma Shetty discovered marital bliss and moved to Bangkok, with everything becoming virtual the distance, he admits is only a Zoom call away.

Huemn, a catchier way to say “human” has always been aware of the social and political landscape, but the question they asked themselves is if they are taking care of their employees and environment? Are you producing ensembles that impact people’s lives?  “We kind of have an affirmative to all these pressing needs. Literally, wear your opinion on your sleeves is what we are all about,” says Pranav.

When the world is going through the worst turmoil, like all thinking individuals, it is our responsibility to mirror it. “Images have a far greater impact than vocals and we have looked at evolution more than change, reworking the same idea till we discover an interesting nuance we can highlight,” he adds.

Even though a Huemn sweat shirt can cost up to Rs 40,000, each piece, he explains, is hand crafted, sometimes it involves 100 man hours, so you can’t easily discard it. “It will live in your active wardrobe for at least ten years,” he explains.

Indian embroidery is used to make unconventional surfaces and his recent trip to Kashmir inspired his FDCI X LFW line which saw intermingling of various crafts—French knots, aari work and challa (ring knots) creating a 3D layer replicating a landscape. Mesmerised by the creative geniuses he met while he was in Kashmir, he also collaborated with Mujtaba Rizvi, an award winning artist and his evocative work “Redundant Conversations” with charcoal, watercolours on paper that found a way on to their tees. “Sometimes you enter a room with the intention of finding a pencil, you miss out on so many beautiful things in the process. What I am trying to say is that the experience matters more than the end result when you travel,” he adds.

His candid conversations with carpet makers, shawl craftsmen and wooden work carpenters in Kashmir over several warm cups of kahwa was revelatory, their effusive love for everything done by hand left a deep impact on Pranav. The magnanimity of the Jhelum river, shikaras, street side iconic barber shop to chinar leaves, it touched him and was translated into visuals in the line.

One thing was irreparable, the sudden loss of his father, who died within two months of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was Pranav’s guiding light and angel. “Sometimes I feel he is present more, when he is absent,” says Pranav. This brain numbing despair can be seen in fleeting images in this line, as artists draw from debilitating losses.

Huemn had been concentrating on the foreign markets for the last many years being a regular at the Paris Fashion Week as well as Shanghai. Now, with foreign trade severely hit, Pranav has for the last one year gone all guns blazing to woo the domestic market. His philosophy has been simple—when you are on the top, work four times harder to keep up the momentum, but when you are down, just stay afloat. “People would often ask me, where can I buy the label from? It became a cause of concern, so I expanded my customer and store base within the country for greater accessibility,” he says.

After eight years in the business of fashion, he worked on pricing, marketability and interacting with clients as well as re-strategize. “I don’t really look at dressing a woman or man, rather a human being who is fearless, evolved and mindful. Thus, we have around us a community of entrepreneurs, musicians and artists who have trusted our exclusive brand,” he concludes.

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