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What’s in a name?

Fashion designers have come up with a unique way to ensure that their styles stand head and shoulders above the rest – by giving their fashion labels intriguing names.

fashion and trends Updated: May 22, 2010 18:38 IST
Veenu Singh
Veenu Singh
Hindustan Times

StyleAnvita Jain

Pappu’s workshop

Although graphic designer and illustrator Anvita Jain studied fashion and graphics at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and holds a visual communications degree from the UK, it is the folk and street arts of India that are her most potent inspiration. So when Jain decided to design bags and clothes with Indian motifs, it’s perhaps only a little surprising that she chose to name her label ‘Pappu’s Workshop’.

“Pappu was the first tailor I hired when I started off, and basically I wanted to give some kind of credit to all these skilled workers who really work hard to make that perfect design for you,” says Jain. She adds, “And I must admit that since last September, when I started retailing at stores like Ogaan (in Mumbai and Delhi), Evoluzione in Chennai and Bombaim in Kolkata, I have had mixed reactions to the label. Many people find it quite funny, while some also get attracted to it for its local Indian flavour.”

Jain has had some experience designing logos for fashion designers and that made her pretty sure that an unusual name would work to her purpose in the long run. “Since it’s a desi as well as an unusual name it definitely stands out from the crowd,” she says. “But then, at the same time, the product has to completely justify it.”

Jain’s main target group is slightly young and niche customers, the kind who are willing to experiment and have a certain sense of humour. “So when I design a bag or even a one-piece dress with a colourful motif of a cow or owl, the buyer definitely should be one who can carry it with panache.” Jain explains that ultimately, her designs are completely unpretentious and also completely grounded with a strong Indian connect. She adds, “I am really looking forward to grow more organically in various ways. I want my graphics to be used in home decor and other relevant areas.”

Poorvi Sahu and Sharad Sharma


It was a chance meeting via one of her cousins that led to textile designer Poorvi Sahu getting in touch with National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) graduate and stylist Sharad Sharma. Sahu, then 25 years old, was already involved in designing clothes while working for her sister, but harboured designs of branching out on her own. Once hooked up with 27-year-old Sharma, Sahu decided to transform her dream into reality. “I had always wanted to do something of my own,” explains Sahu.

“After meeting Sharad, both of us began working from my cousin’s barsati. After some time, we moved to a workshop at Shahpur Jat and decided to come up with a good label for our designs. We almost settled for ‘Burn Oomph’ but somehow it wasn’t going with our style and we thought it was too typically Delhi. Then, one day in our workshop, we heard the masterji calling out to one of his workers to pass the ‘Inchtape’ in a very funny way. So on the spur of the moment, we decided to go with that name.” Buoyed by the response from family and friends, the duo decided to try their luck with the new label via exhibitions. “At our first exhibition, we decorated our corner stall with curtains made of inchtape. This drew people to it, and once there, they really appreciated our clothes. After that, stores started getting in touch with us and soon we got an offer to retail from Miraya in Jaipur,” says Sahu.

Sahu and Sharma mainly design clothes for women, with funky touches and interesting embroidery using wool, patchwork and dori work on fabrics like chiffon and Bhagalpur silk.

Ask them about the connectivity between the product and the label and Sahu says, “Almost everybody has told us that our clothes go very well with our label. And demand is really good, although our advertising has been mainly through word of mouth. I guess we were lucky that things fell in place quite smoothly. Now we want to show at Fashion Week and also expand to include menswear and accessories.”

Pallavi Mohan

Not so serious

Fashion designer Pallavi Mohan always had an interest in painting, starting from when she was five. By her teens, the Assam native had held her first exhibition and was studying various aspects of art with a keen interest in textile designing. During her three-year course, Pallavi met her husband, moved to Delhi and started designing clothes for his firm, which was mainly intended for European markets.

Encouraged by the response, the 28-year-old decided to retail in India under her own name. “I soon realised that an unusual name would help me stand out from the crowd,” explains Mohan. “I was looking for a name that would be catchy and help take the brand forward. During a conversation with a friend, she told me that I was getting a very good response for my designs, so why didn’t I take it seriously? And I replied, that well, I’m not so serious. And suddenly it struck me that this phrase was perfect as the name of my label, so I settled on it.”

Mohan, who describes her clothes as girly and cute with lots of detailing, adds, “My friends and family agreed that the label was very catchy, and in fact, the first exhibition I held under the new name turned out to be a big success.”

Mohan retails from the Ensemble, Aza, Fuel and Tamara boutiques in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad, as well as Atmosphere in Paris and some 52-odd boutiques in Europe and the Middle East.

“Although I mainly design clothes for those looking for fun options for afternoon brunches that could be dressed up for evenings, I also design clothes for kids by order,” explains Mohan. “I sincerely feel that the clothes have to justify the label they are sold under. My target customers are people looking for that little bit of quirkiness in their style and who love to accessorise their clothes well.”

Debyani and Divya

Studio Petticoat

Debyani and Divya, the women behind Studio Petticoat are not just the same age – 29 – but also studied together at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and even interned together. Both were also keen to start their own business, a fact that ultimately led them to team up. And of course, once they did that, they needed a name for their fledgling label.

“After a lot of thought, we decided to come up with a name that was not just eye-catching but also defined our style of clothes which includes a whole lot of inners and slips. So we settled for Studio Petticoat, derived from Petticoat Lane in London (a flea market for vintage clothing),” explains Debyani.

According to Divya, the duo ensures that the inside of every garment they design is as nice as the exterior. “Almost all our garments are a mix of elements and every piece is unique in its own way. And almost all have a quirky element, like a hidden coin purse or some person’s name stitched inside. It makes the wearer stand out from the crowd,” adds Divya.

Studio Petticoat’s target customer is somebody very young and fashionable who is willing to experiment with cuts and silhouettes, explain the duo. “We definitely feel that the uniqueness of the label is a big draw for people as they generally remember our clothes due to that. It is usually word of mouth promotion that works best for us,” explains Debyani. “But at the same time, it is also the uniqueness of the designs that makes the clothes stand out.” Besides their own workshop from where they produce a wide variety of clothes from traditional options to tunics and skirts, the duo retails from stores like Ensemble, Ogaan, Carma, Aza and Elahe in Hyderabad.

First Published: May 22, 2010 14:39 IST