Resolutely Indian

Menswear line

Coming back to India from the US in 2014, Siddharth and Satvika Suri decided to work on their dream of setting up a “truly Indian” initiative in the fashion space — a mix of Siddharth’s strategy planning and Satvika’s marketing brain.

That is how after one and a half years of brainstorming, travelling across India, putting together a six-member team, Andamen — a contemporary heritage men’s fashion label — was born in December 2015. “We were discussing ideas of setting up a menswear label which has its roots in Indian heritage beyond the mainstream symbols and icons. It was all of a sudden that we decided to move back to India,” the co-founders tell Metrolife.

Specialising in men’s shirts, the label uses iconic but offbeat symbols for its prints like the traditional Banarasi motifs and Gangetic dolphins. “We wanted to delve below the surface and look for unconventional design inspiration. Each season’s collection has been inspired by a core theme. Our first collection, ‘Trail of the Ganges’ took inspiration from four cities, alongside the riverbanks of Ganges — Banaras, Rishikesh, Murshidabad and Bhagalpur. The designs on the shirts are reflective of these cities whether it may take form of ‘The Gold String’ featuring traditional Banarasi motifs in a masculine form or ‘The Long Snout’ shirt, which has the Gangetic dolphin aesthetically embroidered on it,” explains Siddharth. He adds, “Since it was an experiment to begin with, we focussed on the Ganges because people relate to it, whether for spirituality, adventure or livelihood, and it turned out in our favour.”

On the name of the label that is inspired by the Andaman Islands, Satvika quips, “Just like the Islands, Andamen is brand that is venturing beyond the motherland. Exploring and discovering the world, yet, in its roots we remain resolutely Indian.”

From the use of Egyptian Giza, which is known to be the world’s finest cotton, to the yarns that are considered two-three times more than the market standard, the husband-wife duo tell Metrolife that quality is what they look for. “We are very particular about the material we use because it lends richer colour vibrancy and enhances durability, yet is affordable within the bracket of Rs 3,000-5,000,” says Satvika.

In its new summer collection ‘Tyohaar’, motifs, tapes and detailing have been inspired from key symbols and artistry from the Hemis Festival of Ladakh and the Desert Festival of Jaisalmer. “From the prayer bells used in ancient Buddhist paintings in the Hemis Monastery of Ladakh to camel art shavings from Jaisalmer, the collection includes a tightly curated range of 18 shirts. The fabrics feature relaxed, superfine linens in dobbies, solids and yarn dyes and the finest cottons in breezy, summer styles,” says Siddharth.

So, what’s next? “We can only tell you that it’s about an icon of India who isn’t a cricketer or an actor,” says Siddharth.

Admitting that as a start-up, the company is “bootstrapped”, Siddharth mentions, “But we are not chasing top numbers. We might not necessarily be the biggest but definitely are trying to be the best.”

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