V for Vintage

From jewellery and sunglasses to bags and furniture,India is waking up to the charm of the old world.

Written by VIDYA PRABHU | Published: October 20, 2012 3:54:19 am

From jewellery and sunglasses to bags and furniture,India is waking up to the charm of the old world.

At a recent bash,Maithili Ahluwalia — better known as the creative and entrepreneurial force behind Mumbai’s fashion and design store Bungalow 8 — stood out in the star-studded gathering. While every other guest flaunted their favourite luxury labels,Ahluwalia made heads turn in a Victorian sequinned dress. “It is a ’40s vintage dress that I picked up from a shop in New York. I teamed it with another vintage element — a Paco Rabanne bag from the ’60s. I rounded off the look with a self-made taffeta turban and Chloe pumps,” she recalls,adding that her look fetched her compliments and eager queries.

Given that Bungalow 8 is housed across three floors in the 19th century Grants Building in Colaba,Ahluwalia’s affair with all things vintage is perhaps not so surprising. She has just introduced a line of American vintage costume jewellery — dating from the ’40s to the ’80s and sourced by NY-based Anita Trehan,at the store. Ahluwalia is part of a growing set of fashionistas who have fallen under the spell of vintage. Other known names that profess their love for it are designer Arjun Khanna and and stylist-turned-designer Pernia Qureshi. Arjun recently showcased a range of vintage and retro collectibles (ties,sunglasses,barber’s chairs,typewriters,bicycles and toys,among other things) at his store. During Lakme Fashion Week,Qureshi had models carry her mother’s vintage bags on the runway.

Mumbai-based entrepreneurs Mehek Agarwal and Karran Khanna are also cashing in on this trend. While Agarwal’s label Viange is all about vintage jewellery (branded and otherwise),Karran sells items such as Ronson lighters,Dior sunglasses,Polaroid and Compur cameras and Underwood typewriters through his Facebook page Vintage Boutique.

Agarwal,whose London-based sister Shikha helps her pick out vintage baubles from across Europe and the US,points out that they have got a great response,particularly because of fashion conscious stars such as Sonam Kapoor,Kajol and Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan,who often wear vintage pieces. For Karran though,the business has been good due to requests from both India and abroad.

While it is known that items that are 100 years old or more qualify as antiques,the word ‘vintage’ seems to cover different time frames for different people. Generally,clothing from the ’20s to the ’60s is considered vintage as are watches from 1870 to 1980. But Arjun Khanna points out how his line has items that are as old as 50 years and at the same time,he also has retro toys from the ’70s.

It is clear that some vintage items have more takers than others and sunglasses and jewellery seem to top the list. Agarwal says that it’s about paying heed to other current trends. “For example,we don’t stock vintage rings because back then,they weren’t like the big cocktail rings that most people prefer today,” she explains. The pricing too plays an important role. These items are priced between Rs 3,000 and 30,000. Karran,whose range costs anywhere between Rs 1,500 and Rs 30,000,says the price is determined by an item’s quality,beauty and rarity.

Still,the market of vintage products in India remains niche. Arjun says,“A lot of people are still skeptical about wearing something that is old and once belonged to someone else.” Agarwal cautions that one must also be careful before one buys into the trend. “A dull,stained or broken item,in the name of vintage,is no good,” she says. At times,it’s also necessary to restore the item and add a dash of modernity. “Some things can be left alone while others work wonders when you tweak them. In the case of my vintage dress,I altered it for the right fit. One can always pair a vintage bag with a modern silhouette such as a jumpsuit,” says Ahluwalia.

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