Her name has always been synonymous with textile innovation, rich handlooms and all things organic. Since she launched her eponymous label in 1995, Bangalore-based designer Deepika Govind has championed the cause of indigenous craftspeople, masterful weavers and revivalists from the remotest corners of India, bringing their artistry to the forefront of mainstream fashion.
So it’s only fitting that when she decides to launch a concept store, it pays tribute to these time-honoured traditions. That it also brings together a curated collection of designer threads that imbibe the same aesthetic sensibility makes Neel Sutra, her store at The Oberoi Gurgaon, a one-stop shop for the skill-seeker. “I always thought I’d open my doors to weavers, craftspeople and other designers in a way that is a true representation of Indian design. It’s a window into what I call ‘India modern’, with a refined sensibility that truly stands for the country we are today,” says Govind.
With a collection of wares co-curated along with Sunil Sethi, President, Fashion Design Council of India, Govind hopes to further the India paradigm by handpicking “textile and craft-based products from like-minded designers, who have a clear identity and fit into the philosophy of the space”.
Here, Rohit Bal’s indigo shibori creations, Rahul Mishra’s jamdani and Chanderi ensembles, Abraham & Thakore’s Chanderi saris and Aneeth Arora of Pero’s trademark textiles rub shoulders with saris sourced from master weavers from across the length and breadth of the country. “We have Uppadas from Andhra Pradesh, Kanjeevarams from Tamil Nadu, Chanderis from Uttar Pradesh, Kotas from Rajasthan, jamdanis from Varanasi, Mysore silks from Karnataka and Paithanis from Maharashtra, to name a few,” says Govind, who has created a special Sari Room to house her passion project.
This will also stock Govind’s own line of ikat and patola saris, handpainted aroma saris in muga silk as well as her trademark eri and modal stoles. “Without the sari and weavers, there is no India story. I’ve always had an inner calling to pursue the sari story in a bigger way. And Mr. Sethi is as passionate about the sari as I am. So we decided to give it a special push,” says Govind.
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Also, on offer is Anju Modi’s minimal Panchvati collection, Gaurav Jai Gupta’s engineered saris, Pankaj & Nidhi’s refined georgettes, Arjun Saluja’s minimal essentials and Urvashi Kaur’s all-linen shibori and tie-dye creations. A star feature is the special menswear line, put together by Sethi, sourced with great care from the craftspeople of Gujarat. Part of the line-up are kurtas, waistcoats, bandhgalas, Jodhpurs and bags, with exquisite detailing and ample pleats, pintucks and handmade textures.
And keeping with the name of the store — the colour “neel” (blue) is a favourite with both Govind and Sethi; there are splashes of indigo and blue in most of the inaugural collections. The space they are housed in is also a clear reflection of this identity. Designed by Akshat Bhatt of Architecture Discipline, the store has generous lashings of “neel” across its 2,200 square feet expanse. With high ceilings composed of slats from 11 types of indigenous wood and accents of distressed zinc, it is an echo of the “India modern” vision that drives Govind’s enterprise.
Having converted her seven-year-old Khan Market (Delhi) store into a Neel Sutra branch, set to formally launch in July, Govind sees this as a movement that is bound to gain momentum. “Today, reviving our cottage industries and crafts is the only way forward. There are so many younger designers who are doing innovative things with Indian textiles. In future, I hope to travel across the country and meet various designers and source their creations, just as I have done with weavers and craftsmen,” says Govind.
This story appeared in print under the headline: Textile files