Trendy and traditional
The online brand EthnicRoom opens its flagship store in the city. The founders Priya Singh and Ankit Gaur talk about delivering on their promise of quality, affordability and style
The husband-wife team of Priya Singh, an NIFT graduate, and Ankit Gaur, a marketing enthusiast, brought both their passions together to form EthnicRoom, an online portal selling authentic Benarasi handloom sarees, dupattas and fabric. Fifteen months down the line, they opened their flagship store in Pune. The plush shop is located in the bylane just opposite Vaishali restaurant on FC Road.
“In February earlier this year, we launched our first shop at SGC mall, Mumbai, and now we are launching in Pune. Our brand revolves around three basic principles — firstly, the Rs 16 billion saree market in India is completely fragmented. We want to deliver on our promise of authenticity. Secondly, we want to bring standardisation of design in the saree market. Biggies like Sabyasachi, Manish Malhotra, Tarun Tahiliani or Ritu Kumar, will design something and the mass market will be flooded with copies. We want to bring some originality in the mass market. My wife heads our design team and we come up with a new collection across various categories of our products every three months. Thirdly, we offer our products at reasonable prices because we own our looms and work directly with over 200 families of weavers in Varanasi. Since we have our own manufacturing, we are able to sell our products at reasonable prices and make sure that the weavers get their due for their hardwork and craftmanship,” says Gaur.
Apart from delivering anywhere in India, the brand also gets orders from the UK and US on their website. But now their plan is to open stores across the major metros across the country.
The outlet stocks a range of Tanchoi silk sarees with zari work, and Dupion silk six yarders with contemporary animal motifs like birds, peacocks, deers and so on. “We design our products based on what is the popular demand in the market. Millenials are really into these animal motifs, so we have introduced such fun designs on our sarees and dupattas,” says Singh.
She displays an exclusive piece where the concept of zari is inverted. This bridal saree is completely gold with motifs made with colourful silk thread. Apart from the traditional colours of magenta, red and orange, the brand also offers a range of Benarasi sarees in modern colour schemes like grey contrasting with pop colours, and pastels. They also have a range of Chanderi dupattas inspired by traditional designs on Benarasi sarees. “The same zari booti, like you have on sarees, is there. But since it is on cotton silk dupattas the cost goes down. It is also easier to maintain and can be handwashed at home,” says she. The in-thing this season is their Noor collection. The highlight is the silver zari booti work all over the saree or dupatta.
For those who don’t want anything too jazzy and are looking for something light-weight and easy to drape, the store has a range of lightweight linen sarees. “We have a collection of pure linen sarees and linen-silk sarees with simple borders, single-side border and embroidery. These sarees have a chic and modern look with motifs like mushrooms, horses and fishes,” she says.
At the far end of the store, you can see a display of exclusive sarees. “These are all high-range one-off designs that don’t belong to a specific collection. They are all exclusive pieces, mostly for weddings and such functions. A bestseller in this category is a grey pure Georgette piece with silver zari work in floral patterns all over the body. This took 30-40 days to make. We also have bridal sarees with jal work and pure katan silk pieces,” she says.
The store also has a section featuring handmade jewellery with semi-precious stones by the brand Swarav.