AMRIT Kumar and Mriga Kapadiya like to describe their indie label NorBlack NorWhite (NBNW) as being “partly an anthropological experiment, part art and part fashion”. No wonder that when Abdon Lepcha, creative director, of Fila India, was looking for a hip brand to rope in for the Italian sporting goods company’s first-ever ‘Heritage’ collaboration for the domestic market, he zeroed in on this Indian-Canadian streetwear brand.
For two friends, who first met in Toronto and noticed each other because of the way they wore their mother’s shawls, Kumar and Kapadiya know a thing or two about combining the richness of their cultural heritage with an uber hip, youthful and global vibe. Since their move to India in 2009 and the launch of NBNW in 2010, the friends have travelled across the country, exploring various disappearing art forms, working with artisan communities and, in turn, creating fashion that is visually bold, unabashedly colourful and unapologetically individualistic.
“We are storytellers, documenting cultural movements, age-old practices and histories in fun and fresh ways, currently expressing our feelings through textiles. We aim to respectfully share what we feel is beautiful, how it is relevant to our everyday lives and people around us, and work to represent the current state of living,” says Kapadiya. Their design journey began with their discovery and subsequent obsession with Kutchi bandhani (tie-dye). The brand’s logo takes on rainbow hues, sweatshirts and socks are covered in bandhani prints,
T-shirts are awash in Madras checks and joggers wear colourful tassels. Their love for everything “classically ’90s” manifests in the hoodies, matching jogger sets and throwback mesh baseball jerseys.
And while giving Fila’s classic Disruptor trainers a bandhani makeover was especially fun, the collaboration wasn’t free of challenges and drew the duo out of their comfort zone. “We had to learn a lot about what the design possibilities were, including the usage of logo, colours and patterns. Since Fila has such a strong and iconic aesthetic, it was important to understand how our brands could flow, while keeping within their production capabilities. We asked a lot of questions, and experimented with ways of achieving and applying textile and pattern driven ideas in an athletic space,” says Kumar.
But what the two didn’t compromise on was their vision and brand philosophy, which takes inclusivity and equality quite seriously. The entire Fila Heritage X NBNW collection is gender neutral. With prices ranging from Rs 1,999 to Rs 8,999, the collection is available at select Fila stores and on Koovs.com.