While her love affair with saris started over a decade ago, Mandira Bedi states that it was only when she launched her own store in Mumbai two years ago that people started taking her seriously as a designer. “Having a store meant that I was not operating out of a studio, garage or home. While I personally love saris, and am happy designing only those, we had a lot of customers asking for anarkalis, tunics and heavier bridal wear,” she says.
Last week, she extended the eponymous store in Khar to a multi-designer outlet, called M The Store. The space is now home to around 30 designers, featuring a mix of ethnic and western silhouettes, chunky jewellery, embellished clutches and shoes.
The actor believes that saris come within a certain budget, which can be restrictive commercially. “Often, buyers who walk in have an intent to buy, but don’t always want to shell out Rs 10,000-15,000 at once. But they don’t mind getting a tunic for one-third of that price. When the markets were down, our wraps and shawls would sell faster,” she asserts. M The Store, which also has an e-portal now by the same name, includes creations by established designers such as Gavin Miguel, Rajat Tangri, Anavila as well as newer names such as Rrisa, Palanquin and Veda Raheja.
While the pret collection includes jumpsuits, flowy gowns and summery kurtas, there are lehengas, jacket-dhoti and anarkalis in the ethnic sections. “I have a merchandiser who brought me stuff from lots of designers before I zeroed down on these names. While taste is subjective, I wanted to ensure that the aesthetics match my sensibilities,”
she says, adding that she steered clear of bigger names as most have their own flagship stores.
Bedi’s own creations have a long shelf to themselves, a bright mix of Benarasi silks, satin georgettes and dupion silks, including pieces from her showcase at Lakme Fashion Week’s Summer/Resort edition this year. “Benarasi saris are often perceived to be cumbersome so I wanted to work on the construct. I’ve woven them with lighter fabrics,” she says. Counting the price point as her USP — the tunics start at Rs 3,000 — Bedi says that her store fulfils most budget and silhouette requirements. “The idea is to walk out with a complete ensemble. I also have my ready-to-wear blouses and lycra petticoats that totally transform the fit of the sari. At one of my exhibitions in Singapore, a buyer actually termed them ‘spanx for saris’,” she says with a laugh.