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How this woman entrepreneur is telling stories through fashion

The brand, as Arya Giri herself describes it, is a potpourri of nostalgia, fables, and memories wrapped into one

Arya Giri
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Arya Giri

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The brand is eponymous. Arya Giri has been raised across the globe and that in turn helped her realise that understandings of our rich culture and heritage had come from the tangibility, idiosyncrasies, and tales that were chips of our family pieced together. On the basis of that understanding, she, on completion of her higher education in fashion media and industries in Singapore, has set out on an entrepreneurial journey, rolling out a designer brand with substance and emotion, and heritage and feeling called Arya Giri.

The brand, as she herself describes it, is a potpourri of nostalgia, fables, and memories wrapped into one. Speaking to Bizz Buzz exclusively, Arya Giri, explains how her collection comprising hand-woven, handmade, and hand-embroidered in India women's wear and men's wear, embarks on the odyssey of exploring Indian culture through the lens of a diaspora personal.

What was the trigger behind getting into this area?

I've had the privilege of growing up to the background music of art and design at every touch point; whether that was the shuttle sprinting across handloom frames, or the crunchy plastic sheets bustling across my mom's eager fingers as she chose the perfect old English rose for her new collection. My mother is a huge inspiration to me. Hailing from the Royal Zamorin family, Mom set out on a quest to revive the archive handlooms she had access to that perished with colonization and industrialization. So you can imagine how all of our family trips to India were punctuated by the background music of jacquard punching cards shuffling and warps and wefts shuttling across in the looms. This flourished into majoring in Fashion Media and Industries at Lasalle College of the Arts, in Singapore, and ultimately starting my eponymous label, Arya Giri.

Arya Giri focuses on an extremely niche segment. Any idea how big could this highly niche segment be? How is this growing?

The brand is catered to a niche segment; one that comes from the quality of the fabric, the focus on sustainable production practice, and attention to detail. Arya Giri has been well received in fashion-centric cities of India as well as New York at just 10 months of age. Although we exist within a niche segment, we provide affordable price points for accessible luxury. It is for your daily life and the goal is to have Arya Giri be a part of your everyday - office to evening, day to night. The ability to flourish and create in this segment is highly plausible and the vertical and horizontal collaborative opportunities can be endless. I hope to continue with the right foot forward and traverse through this segment positively.

What has been your experience at the New York Fashion Show?

My experience at New York Fashion Week was surreal. At just 10 months of the brand's inception, to be selected for such an incredible opportunity was humbling. It was months of preparation, production, and NYFW itself was an adrenaline-filled learning opportunity. I felt beyond grateful to be able to put our country further on the global map of fashion and create a platform for the Sher-Rani (Tigress Queen) story on such a pivotal scale. Sher-Rani is a collection that explores the story of the Phool wali (flower garland makers) and how when she threads together garlands of flowers she is the Sher-Rani (Tigress-Queen) of her area. She earns in order to provide a better future for her children that surpasses the restrictions and glass ceilings they were born into. Flowers are an integral component in every stage of an Indian's life from birth to cremation. A harnessing of strength, grace, dignity, and ferocity is what makes India's women something to be truly proud of. I look forward to putting my learning into practice as I catapult to the next opportunity.

Do you think that the global market can lap up this whole idea of telling stories, mythology, occult and so on through dress materials, if one can reach out to them?

Both the national and international market is constantly innovating and expressing. Fashion boils down to self-expression and exploration at the end of the day and that is exactly what this brand is about. While there are many prêt labels in the market, ours is specifically designed for those seeking a reflection of the cultural introspection or expression they've reached; this is a monumental demographic on its own. Not through over-the-top motifs, but through the everyday look that makes them feel that much more in touch with themselves. Personally, I believe being a sustainable or ethical brand is not a differentiator anymore but should be a requirement. We use organic fabrics and tie in cultural sustainability with our creations through the use of narratives and handloom textiles rooted in Indian heritage.

How many weavers, are you currently working with? And on an average, how long do they take to complete a particular job/work?

We work with weavers across India, in Kanchipuram, Surat, and Bengal, to name a few, to create some of the fabrics we utilise in our collections. The duration of each piece is based on the intricacy of the jacquard incorporated and the technicalities of the fabrication; but on average it takes one to four months to weave.

If they take too long, then scalability factor might get affected. What is your take on that? Does that mean, you will not look at scales, at least for the time being?

The duration factor is taken care of by proactive conceptualisation, preparation, and trials. We work 6-8 months in advance of the release of collections, with multiple collections developing simultaneously, to ensure that we adhere to our Hybrid Drop model. Often, in the luxury prêt world you will notice only 3-5 collections dropped annually. I've worked tirelessly and passionately with my team to establish a Hybrid Drop Model that releases a myriad of capsule collections, expansive collections, and runway features spanning a 2 month interval annually. This allows Arya Giri to be accessible and fresh at all times of the year and for our consumers to continually explore what we have to offer and be a part of our journey.

Are you looking at stories, superstitions, etc from different parts of the country so that Arya Giri products are accepted across the country and beyond?

Arya Giri is a potpourri of nostalgia, fables, and memories wrapped into one. Having been raised across the globe, understandings of our rich culture and heritage came from the tangibilities, idiosyncrasies and tales that were chips of our family pieced together. Every collection embarks on the odyssey of exploring diaspora culture through the lens of a diaspora persona with an emblem and poem as the crux of the narrative. Arya Giri is a brand that is proudly hand-woven, handmade, and hand-embroidered in India. The seeds of inspiration that spur on the stories depicted in each collection come from within - a journey of introspection. In some cases they are indeed tied to specific regions of India, while in other cases they are about the identity and agency of culture means on a more metaphorical level. This lends itself to the ability of acceptance in India and internationally.

You will also have to have a large repertoire of such stories- mythological, local and otherwise. What are your plans on that?

I've had the privilege of growing up exposed and experiencing the globe in such a nuanced way thanks to my family and it has lent me a knack for storytelling and memories. In addition, I believe that creativity and the horizons of one's wild imagination can constantly expand as long as you nurture your mind and soul. On that note, brands are constantly growing and evolving; taking on new skins to explore - that is a representation of the living organism that is a brand and its Creative Director.

Currently Arya Giri products are available online only. Any plans for physical retailing- at least one or two signature/flagship outlets, going forward?

Arya Giri is available online at aryagiri.com as well as the esteemed Evoluzione Delhi, Evoluzione Chennai, and Curato in India. As well as the prestigious Flying Solo in New York in store and online.

Would you eventually look into men's wear, kidswear segments as well?

Arya Giri produces luxury prêt womenswear and menswear. Branching into kidswear, leather goods etc are all eventually in the pipeline. Currently, our focus is on growth in the luxury womenswear and menswear segments nationally and internationally.

Ritwik Mukherjee
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