March 16, 2024 FDCI

Hoops of Hope

Nitya Arora of the accessories brand Valliyan celebrates its 15th anniversary by paying tribute to bugs and beetles, quiet warriors, in a new sci-fi avatar, who help balance our fragile eco-system through her brass and copper gold plated jewellery.

By Asmita Aggarwal

The brand got its name from her grandmother’s blessings, as the hoops (balliyan) she was presented with came with a promise of a lucrative future—thus the moniker Valliyan, twenty years ago also a tribute to her robust Punjabi heritage. Though it has been a bumpy ride as the market in 2008, was immature and lacked any concept of fashion jewellery—it was either silver or precious, nothing in between.

Her journey began with fashion pop ups, where questions like how to wear fashion jewellery, what is it made of, came up, also why should costumey earrings be so expensive?  “It was a potentially  growing segment and the market had to be created, it didn’t exist back then,” explains Nitya Arora the founder of Valliyan, who was in some ways ahead of the curve in both ideas and design, though since the time she began the market had been flooded with new players.

 In many ways Nitya knew the way to grab an audience was online, thus unlike designers who started their website during the Pandemic when they were forced into e-commerce, Valliyan had theirs up and running since 2013. “Only through our online retail we could go viral with our ear cuffs, midi rings and evil eye bracelets as well as your initial (name) embedded jewellery,” she explains, as her first store in Kala Ghoda, Mumbai ten years ago was started when the fashion destination was get to win the huge popularity it enjoys today.

At a time when social media was non-existent, Nitya knew films had a huge power, she had after all interned with Kunal Rawal. She took a leap of faith and designed jewellery for Sonam Kapoor starrer, a fashion forward film, Aisha. Trained at the Parsons School of Design, US, she knew jewellery would be her calling even though she studied fashion design as she made what she wanted to wear and could not find in the Indian market. Valliyan is crafted out of copper and brass, then gold plated, some of her pieces are made from cane, wood, acrylic and even bamboo.

Fascinated by furniture weavers, she sat down with them to learn the techniques and then trained under artist Ashiesh Shah, when she was barely 15, the desire to learn and grow was omnipresent. “I did many different things while growing up and was the first brand to sell exclusively at Bombay Electric. Women through Instagram have a lot more exposure now they know how to dress, accessorise and the content online has boosted their confidence. The Pandemic also changed our relationships with ourselves and people dressed nattily to be online, they want to spend money to look good and are not waiting for occasions,” she adds.

The beauty of fashion jewellery is its accessibility and pricing, unlike things you put in the locker and forget, this can offer multiple options, that’s why her LFW line is titled “Valliyan 5.0”. “There was a time when I did a show every year, and it always excited me even though LFW did not have a space for accessory designers. My latest line is a mix of handmade with technology coming together beautifully. Focus is on bugs and beetles and how they are little robots working in the background invisibly in our lives. They balance our ecosystem and have never been given credit for their work,” says Nitya. In addition, for LFW X FDCI 2024 there are butterflies, dragonflies, with a space age, sci-fi feel, presented in a theatrical manner, she admits.

Coming from a business family, she was often questioned about her need to work, and was hugely protected while growing up, but from Marine Drive to work with Kunal Rawal in Marol, Nitya took that painful drive everyday. “It was crazy work hours but the learning with Kunal was stupendous. When I launched my label I self-taught myself—merchandising, production, finances, design to retail and wholesale, and today we are celebrating 15 years of the brand’s inception,” she smiles adding that she is proud of herself, being able to survive in this cut throat world where brands struggle to live everyday.

Tagged: , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fashion Design Council of India