press

Hot off the press

“Each time you visit, you will find
something distinct”
The Platform Magazine

“Celebrating Indian textile, the store is a personal space that designs, conceptualizes and stocks endearing outfits for tiny-tots. The motifs that run across the soft cotton fabrics on display, pick up inspiration from nature and the Indian folklore “

 

Run by Divya Bajpai and Aditi Bajpai, The Almirah is a warm and inviting little store at Meharchand Market, New Delhi. Celebrating Indian textile, the store is a personal space that designs, conceptualizes and stocks endearing outfits for tiny-tots. The motifs that run across the soft cotton fabrics on display, pick up inspiration from nature and the Indian folklore.

 

Aditi Bajpai grew up observing her mother, Divya who spent most of her time designing home furnishings and clothes for her export company. As a result, Aditi’s play space was filled with fabrics and threads, thanks to her mother’s occupation. It was after graduating from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi that she started experimenting with fabric printing and kick-started The Almirah with her mother.

 

Using organic cotton to tailor their creations, the mother-daughter duo is committed to aid the farmers who practice organic farming. Currently conceptualizing occasion-wear for kids, The Almirah is constantly adding all sorts of bits and bobs to its store. Each time you visit, you will find something distinct to fill up your kid’s almirah with, the owners promise.

 

From traditional garments to rugs to night-wear, their prints, textiles and embroidery evoke colour and simplicity through which they succeed in their attempts of being child-like. With one retail store already at Meherchand Market, The Almirah has now opened its doors for its customers at Gurgaon as well.

 

By Hansika Lohani

The Platform Magazine | 1 November 2014

My Ikat Love Blog

“Their designs are simple yet quirky, traditional yet smart and mostly in pastel shades. In short exactly the kind of stuff I like to see on my daughter“

 

Today, in my inbox, was a cute surprise waiting for me to open. An e-mail from Aditi Bajpai introducing me to her brand Almirah, a Delhi based Indian boutique brand, which specializes in organic clothing, bedding & accessories for children (0-10 years).

 

By now you all already know about my love for Indian block printing, so when I saw the pictures of what Almirah makes, you can imagine how my heart melted. The softness of the mul fabrics or the organic cotton used in making those lovely little dresses & kurtas can be seen even in the pictures. And their speciality is their love and respect for traditional Indian techniques of quilting, hand block printing, weaving & hand embroidery. Their designs are simple yet quirky, traditional yet smart and mostly in pastel shades. In short exactly the kind of stuff I like to see on my daughter.

 

Almirah has its boutique store at 38, Meherchand Market, Lodhi Road, New Delhi & their newly opened second boutique store is at Millennium City, Gurgaon. Why does everything nice have to be in Delhi? Grrrrrr...You can go to Almirah's FB page & 'Like' it for regular updates. I am going to do that now!

 

Image sources: www.thealmirah.com & FB Page

 

Thanks Aditi Bajpai & Almirah!

My Ikat Love Blog | 21 May 2013

Travel + Leisure

“This block is crammed with design heroes... with its line-up stores like Almirah..."

 

Just doing the rounds of Delhi’s bazaars is enough to keep you busy for the whole day when visiting this city. Despite the dizzying proliferation of malls, the distinct markets of Delhi have grown in character. Some of it may be thanks to the emerging design scene that is as proud as it is talented; some of it has to do with historic shopping trails that have continually evolved to still be at the top of their game. They all have in common a few truths—one, a bizarre system of parking in which you blindly and whole-heartedly trust the attendant with your key, which he always traces to its rightful owner. Two, we’re either too warm or too cold, but we’ll always find a food or drink option that just right. Three, hands empty or full, we always come home vaguely satisfied. These markets cover the gamut from roadside glory to glamour stories.

 

Mehar Chand Market: Touted as the new market on the block, this block is crammed with design heroes, French bistros and everything cool in between. With its line-up of new(ish) stores like Almirah, CMYK, O Layla and The Kirana Shop, it manages to retain a sense of discovery—a slightly more grown-up version of some of the hipster spots in the city.

 

 

Taken from the article: Top Markets in Delhi by Aditi Datta

Travel + Leisure | 1 November 2014

So Delhi

"It’s a delightful world in here, just looking around makes you smile and it’s easy to get lost in the soft pastels, pinstripes, checks and prints"

 

Surprisingly, in a bottomless pool of retail shops galore, simple, classy clothing for kids is wanting. Almirah, a socially conscious concept boutique, housed in the trendy Mehar Chand Market came in as a breath of fresh air in 2011. It’s a delightful world in here, just looking around makes you smile and it’s easy to get lost in the soft pastels, pinstripes, checks and prints which have been given a unique twist by the creative genius of the versatile designer Aditi Bajpai.

 

 

Also, Divya Bajpai, the owner of the parent company, has put out her over two decades of experience in the field, and we are not complaining. The mother-daughter duo team is here to stay.

 

 

Aditi got the ideal learning opportunity from an early age at her mother, Divya’s export house from the age when she was just happy entwining and getting entangled between colourful spools and yards of warp and weft. Years of cherishing and nurturing their dream, and many brainstorming sessions in later years has taken shape in a concrete platform now, invoking the ‘days gone by’ in their unique venture.

 

 

Whispering Willows Tumble out of the Closet

 

 

Chidren’s clothing has come of age. The little ones do not have to doll up looking like overgrown miniatures of mammas or papas anymore. They can be themselves and have their own identity as early as 0 months. It’s all about fashionable children’s garments, accessories and bedding with an Indian edge, following traditional weaves, hand-blocking, tie-dyeing, hand embroideries to deliver quaint, clean lines.

 

 

The glass façade gives you a glimpse of the pleasant and inviting space reflecting grungy white walls and wood with splashes of red, blue and yellow. Actually, the décor comes from the delectable, almost good-enough-to-eat products on display.

 

 

Cool, adorable and one-of-their-kind motifs on pure cottons are being lapped by young parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, friends - for their own and their friend’s kids.

 

 

Organic cotton farming is promoted to deliver soft Mulmuls, Ikats, wool which is like whispering willows from urban and rural jungles. The sheer visual treat is breathtaking and mesmerizing.

 

 

The ages catered to are 0-10 years for both boys and girls. The shop has a delightful array of elephants, camels, giraffes, owlets and more on sheets, dresses, shirts, bottoms, night wear, onesies, cot- sets& Dohars et al.

 

 

The accessories including stuffed toys, floor throws, bands, clips and footwear are equally delightful.

 

So Delhi | 28 May 2013

Little Black Book Delhi

“Perfect for summer dos, so your babies can breathe, stay clear of the chunni chocking hazard, and look even cuter."

 

Having stumbled upon them in a recent flea market, their miniature ikat and tie and dye kurtas had us wishing for a stork visit. Only because storks look so damn good in ikat. Almirah also does paisley and small animal printed kurtas for boys, and extends the same fabrics to summer dresses {too-die}, and top and bottom combos for little girls, all inspired from Indian fabrics.

 

 

 

Perfect for summer dos, so your babies can breathe, stay clear of the chunni chocking hazard, and look even cuter. Throw in a matching diaper bag to complete the look. And for when they’ve outgrown their outfits, the stork is waiting in the wings.

 

 

Taken from: Baby Baraatis | 9 Stores to Make Your Children Wedding Ready By Rashi Wadhera

Little Black Book Delhi | 18 September 2014

Deccan Chronicle

“Their speciality lies in retaining the exclusivity and handmade charm of products. “

 

Mother daughter duo, Divya and Aditi Bajpai from Delhi have set up shop in Mumbai and employed over 50 local artisans who create a variety of weaves and prints for their store that specialises in children’s clothing

 

 

Children’s clothing has come of age. Just when their feet is out of the cradle, they have a distinctive sense of style of their own and this mother daughter duo from Delhi understand just that.

 

 

Divya Bajpai and Aditi Bajpai are the trailblazers behind Almirah — a Delhi based brand, which specialises in children’s clothes, bedding and accessories. It was her daughter’s love for designing that led to the genesis of Almirah.

 

 

“Aditi just couldn’t stop designing and we did not want to restrict her designs to canvas and paper or something hanging on the wall. We decided to adopt an utilitarian approach and put her designs to good use. The artworks used in our prints and embroidery styles are made by Aditi,” said Divya who looks after the production aspect of the store. Aditi’s penchant for designing and the lack of Indian-ness in children’s apparel was one of the reasons behind Almirah.

 

 

“The market for children’s clothes is largely untapped in India, Apart from a selected few brands, there is hardly any Indian brand. Through Almirah, we have tried to invoke the memories of days gone by and draw inspiration from rural and urban jungles of India.” she puts forth.

 

 

Their speciality lies in retaining the exclusivity and handmade charm of products. With over 50 artisans employed with them a variety of prints, weaves, quilting techniques come to the forefront in their designs.

 

 

“There is so much to Indian art and craft form which is yet to be explored. While working with these traditional artisans we give them a chance to hone their skills and they make that extra bit of money, which always comes handy. It’s Aditi’s dream that each of these artisans and tailors get paid more than their conventional counterparts.” Divya reveals.

 

 

Keeping the quirkiness intact while adding a tinge of tradition is their aim. “Our graphics are for the contemporary setting, but we make sure that the uniqueness remains unblemished as we etch childhood memories onto the fabric,” Divya points out. Almirah opened its first store in Delhi in 2011 and since then it has come a long way opening its fourth store, in Bandra. “Our customers in Delhi used to keep asking if we had a branch in Mumbai as well. Now we can finally tell them yes we do.

 


By Aarti Bhanushali

 

...

Deccan Chronicle | 11 March 2015

City Scan Magazine

“Their speciality lies in retaining the exclusivity and handmade charm of products. “

 

Mother daughter duo, Divya and Aditi Bajpai from Delhi have set up shop in Mumbai and employed over 50 local artisans who create a variety of weaves and prints for their store that specialises in children’s clothing

 

 

Children’s clothing has come of age. Just when their feet is out of the cradle, they have a distinctive sense of style of their own and this mother daughter duo from Delhi understand just that.

 

 

Divya Bajpai and Aditi Bajpai are the trailblazers behind Almirah — a Delhi based brand, which specialises in children’s clothes, bedding and accessories. It was her daughter’s love for designing that led to the genesis of Almirah.

 

 

“Aditi just couldn’t stop designing and we did not want to restrict her designs to canvas and paper or something hanging on the wall. We decided to adopt an utilitarian approach and put her designs to good use. The artworks used in our prints and embroidery styles are made by Aditi,” said Divya who looks after the production aspect of the store. Aditi’s penchant for designing and the lack of Indian-ness in children’s apparel was one of the reasons behind Almirah.

 

 

“The market for children’s clothes is largely untapped in India, Apart from a selected few brands, there is hardly any Indian brand. Through Almirah, we have tried to invoke the memories of days gone by and draw inspiration from rural and urban jungles of India.” she puts forth.

 

 

Their speciality lies in retaining the exclusivity and handmade charm of products. With over 50 artisans employed with them a variety of prints, weaves, quilting techniques come to the forefront in their designs.

 

 

“There is so much to Indian art and craft form which is yet to be explored. While working with these traditional artisans we give them a chance to hone their skills and they make that extra bit of money, which always comes handy. It’s Aditi’s dream that each of these artisans and tailors get paid more than their conventional counterparts.” Divya reveals.

 

 

Keeping the quirkiness intact while adding a tinge of tradition is their aim. “Our graphics are for the contemporary setting, but we make sure that the uniqueness remains unblemished as we etch childhood memories onto the fabric,” Divya points out. Almirah opened its first store in Delhi in 2011 and since then it has come a long way opening its fourth store, in Bandra. “Our customers in Delhi used to keep asking if we had a branch in Mumbai as well. Now we can finally tell them yes we do.

 


By Aarti Bhanushali

City Scan Magazine | 1 October 2012

Findable.in

“Stumped simply to find that this children wear and bedding boutique alas had a novel Indian edge too!“

 

If you have started to think of Meherchand as a food destination, flip through further to acknowledge the shopping attractions which contribute to this market's distinction....

 

Subsequently I was bemused to discover a kiddy boutique- Almirah. Stumped simply to find that this children wear and bedding boutique alas had a novel Indian edge too! They sell the cutest possible garb, accessories and bedware for children. It cam upon me that most of what Meherchand has in the offering works on a desi theme.

 

From the eateries, bookshop and arty boutiques to the home furnishing and traditional women apparel stores I was about to visit next, Indian themes have been given their due prerogative. This place is sprouting in the most authentic of manner and focusing on touching a Delhiities spirit with its homely charm.


Taken from the article: "New Bazaar on the Block: Meherchand Market" by Varalika Vij

Findable.in | 20 March 2014

Corner Delhi Blog

“The designs are simple, the techniques used are traditional and the result is gorgeous."

 

Almirah kids wear is a mother-daughter venture who decided to use their talent and love for designing into making clothing and bedding for children.

 

The duo makes sure they use material that is completely organic and are fans of Indian fabrics and weaving techniques. You will therefore find here outfits that are made of cotton, mulmul and wool, and are adorned with hand embroideries and block printing. The designs are simple, the techniques used are traditional and the result is gorgeous.

 

Where – 38, Mehar Chand Market

 

Contact - +91 11 49050221

 

Taken from the Article: "Meherchand Market- A new Abode of Fashion and Style" by Raisa Gupta

 

 

Corner Delhi Blog | 4 September 2012

Blog: Mummy Knows Best

“This is my latest place so if you have had a baby recently you can expect a gift from here."

 

August means Monsoon and Monsoon means happiness! It rains and rains and the air is cooler. We can sit outside and enjoy a drink (and the dengue plagued mosquito's).....

 

This years Monsoon has brought more happiness than last years for two main reasons - this year was way hotter than last year and secondly I am pregnant this year and the heat really got to me!

 

People venture out alot more during the Monsoon, including us, and I've been to a couple of new places I would recommend to my Delhi friends or anyone coming to visit...... anyone......anyone......Almirah in Meher Chand Market has great kids clothes in very cute patterns and designs. This is my latest place so if you have had a baby recently you can expect a gift from here. I especially love the PJ's and little girls dresses. Shop 38 Mehar Chand Market.

 

Almirah in Meher Chand Market has great kids clothes in very cute patterns and designs. This is my latest place so if you have had a baby recently you can expect a gift from here. I especially love the PJ's and little girls dresses. Shop 38 Mehar Chand Market.

 

Blog: Mummy Knows Best | 11 July 2012

Sunday Standard

“Not Quite Puppy-Dog Tails: Funky Clothes for Boys (and Girls)"

 

Everyone seems to be having little baby boys nowadays. So the pressure to find unusual, yet practical gifts for the little gundas is ever-increasing for me, the eternal aunty. Which is why I was ecstatic to discover Almirah. Tucked away in my favourite Delhi market (which I love because it’s quiet, unassuming and has parking space!), this little store exudes style and simplicity.

 

As you walk in you sigh audibly because it is cool and summery inside, and the staff are smiley and happy to help. Fresh, cottony half sleeved shirts with aeroplane or elephant prints would be just right for my 4 year old twin nephews. The organic cotton angarkha kurta with a cycle applique patch and matching pajamas would look adorable on my best friend’s 1 year old son. And the gorgeous, soft cotton quilts and pillows would be the perfect present for a 5 month old baby boy I’ve been meaning to visit for ages.

 

There are gorgeous dresses and things for girls, too, but we’ll save that for another post. Once you’re done with buying, ask the staff for their crisp kora bags to wrap your gifts in!

 

 

Sunday Standard | 13 April 2014

Locus City Cards Lodhi

“it’s Meher Chand Market off Lodhi Road, once the domain of photocopiers and juice-wallahs, that has had the most impressive second coming as the go-to place of the Khan Market émigré fleeing from soulless branded outlets."

 

It’s not just that Delhi constantly reinvents itself; even the shopping areas are reborn again and again. The soaring retail prices in the city in the early part of the decade and the sealing of stores in upmarket areas saw many entrepreneurs heading to the DDA markets in the city as enclaves of survival, and in the process creating chic zones for exclusive eateries, apparel and home products. Some like the Safdarjung Enclave Market and the SDA market couldn’t make the leap; others like Green Park thrived.

 

But it’s Meher Chand Market off Lodhi Road, once the domain of photocopiers and juice-wallahs, that has had the most impressive second coming as the go-to place of the Khan Market émigré fleeing from soulless branded outlets.

 

Those with kids to think about can make their final stop at No. 39, where Almirah offers nature-friendly children’s wear made from mulmul, ikat weaves and gentle linen.

 

 

Taken from the article: Market That Turns the Other Chic

Locus City Cards Lodhi | 1 April 2015

LOVE DELHI

“As much treat for adults, as it is for kids “

 

Meherchand Market in Lodhi Road is located behind the iconic India Habitat Centre. This market has transformed itself into an upscale neighbourhood market and is easily navigated by foot. It offers visitors a wide array of stores that include both unremarkable grocery stores as well as niche boutiques.

 

Almirah is a socially conscious boutique for children. With soft organic cotton clothes and bedding the store is as much a treat for adults as it is for kids.

 

 

Locus Media City Cards

LOVE DELHI | 1 February 2013

Travel + Leisure

“A cupboard of delightful children’s clothing, bedding and accessories, all made in New Delhi, with modern appeal and a touch of Indian charm."

 

Almirah means a cupboard, and in this case a cupboard of delightful children’s clothing, bedding and accessories, all made in New Delhi, with modern appeal and a touch of Indian charm.

 

Created by a mother daughter duo, Divya and Aditi, they only use natural fabrics including organically grown cotton, deliciously soft mulmul and muslin, wool and linen. Cute embroidered jutis (shoes) cost aroundRs.550, as will a block print shirt while three piece set (tunic, pants or skirt and scarf) for little girls will be about Rs.2,000 and quilts start at Rs 1,700.


Taken from Love Delhi (edition 4) by Fiona Caulfield

Travel + Leisure | 1 June 2012

Time Out Delhi

"Accessible location, ample parking(for the time being), and quaint old'd world charm appealed to a young breed of entrepreneurs who wanted to steer clear of malls when launching their innovative retail spaces"

 

Over the decades, the sleepy Meherchand Market(MCM), located behind India Habitat Centre, in New Delhi remained a bastion for tailors and tenthouses. But the sky rocketing rents in nearby Khan Market ensured that the neighbourhood was finally explored by retailers. In the last six months, it has emerged from its intertia and gone straight into a full blown makeover. Its accessible location, ample parking(for the timebeing), and quaint old'd world charm appealed to a young breed of entrepreneurs who wanted to steer clear of of malls when launching their innovative retail spaces. It seems like everytime you blink, a new store is opening its doors here- one more inviting than the other. I had heard rumours about this becoming the next 'it' place in Delhi, so I decided to drop by.

 

"This market has a small town feel to it, and there is a sense of community that exists here," says Aditi Bajpai, owner of Almirah where you will find adorable clothing and bedding for tiny tots. All items from bed sheets and duvets to dresses prominently feature Indian motifs like haathi(elephant), tota (parrot) and bhalui(bear) and are made from pure cotton. Pick up an adorable bhalu dresses in kurta pyjama, or a toothfairy cushion.

 

By Samai Singh in Retail Renaissance

Time Out Delhi | 15 January 2012

YourStory | Women Entrepreneurs

“This cosy little shop, with its untreated white walls and rustic wooden furniture, is great for a kid’s shopping experience thats not run-of-the-mill - or, for that matter, run-of-the-mall."

 

If you’re looking to stock up in anticipation of a new baby, a stopover at Almirah should do the trick. This cosy little shop, with its untreated white walls and rustic wooden furniture, is great for a kid’s shopping experience thats not run-of-the-mill - or, for that matter, run-of-the-mall.

 

Almirah’s Divya Bajpai used her 20 years of experience of designing and manufacturing and exporting kid’s stuff to team up with her daughter Aditi and create a line of children’s wear and bedding. The two have kept Indian sensibilities, styles and seasons in mind.

 

Taking a cue from the curly elephant that replaces the “m” in the Almirah, animal motifs are all over the stores clothes, accessories and bedding. Birds, elephants and bears in bold colors run riot on crips white cottons with an occasional motor vehicle print thrown in for fun. Inspired by Gond tribal motifs, the fabrics mix modern block and hand-screened prints, and quilting. While cotton is the store’s forte, Almirah has a decent collection of velvet dresses and shirts with owl motifs for winter months. It also has organza silk Indian garments for dressier occasions.Out picks: bright quilted blankets and block printed covers, red and white elephant totes for lugging baby paraphernalia and stuffed toys. The tiny garments wrapped in organza bags will add some magic to your little one’s wardrobe.

 

Akshita Nahar

YourStory | Women Entrepreneurs | 22 June 2016

The Indian Express

“A major part of their concept is the promotion of fabrics like organic cotton, which we believe is beneficial to all the stakeholders from the farmer to the customer. "

 

Reportage on fashion never fails to gloat about how we Indians are finally meeting western standards of what is referred to as high fashion. But the day we decided to ape and achieve these standards itself is perhaps the biggest blip in our cultural history, the loyal custodians of India’s grand sense of design will tell you.

 

“Having grown up in Bhopal and Delhi and in the sixties and early seventies, there were no brands or malls. It was a time when as a child you had tailors come home to design and make clothes for you. I have fond memories of playing around my mother and Salam, our tailor, who would make dresses and lehengas in the verandah,” says Divya Bajpai, a veteran in the world of fashion.

 

Neither of them had any formal training in business or design. Almirah grew out of a passion for textiles and love for Indian techniques like weaving, quilting, printing, and hand embroidery. Created by mother-daughter duo Aditi and Divya Bajpai, Almirah is a treasure trove indeed, of simple, quirky clothes and bedding for children between ages 0 and 12. Their products have an Indian edge and handmade touch that is waning in an increasingly mass produced market. This is maintained through their distinct silhouettes, motifs, prints, and techniques used – not to mention junior Bajpai’s flair for folklore and storytelling through design.

 

Divya has been an entrepreneur for almost three decades in exports and designing, even started up with Flying Geese Quilts and has since dabbled with design and Indian handicrafts, selling her products to the UK and the US. Aditi joined her mother’s bandwagon for all things Indian and design in 2011 to incept Almirah, with a rather unconventional background- in political science – for a designer. She did her Masters in Political Science at Delhi University.

 

While she was completing her Masters in 2009, she traveled across North India and became aware of a change that was taking place in modern India: a whole generation of potential craftsmen and artisans were abandoning their traditional skills in the face of industrialisation and lack of opportunities. The recession of 2009 had caused her mother’s garment export business to suffer and many of her karigars (artisans) began to lose their jobs, many of whom she had known since she was little. She knew instantly that she had to salvage this dying breed. Aditi later went onto pursue a program at Parsons in Design Management. The switch from academia to business and design was hard, and but what was a dichotomy between political science and design is now bridged in their business and how it functions. “It is through Almirah that I hope to bridge the gap between sustainable fashion and the politics of the handicraft sector,” says Aditi.

 

For the love of all things Indian

 

Their collections over the years have been memory wears of some sorts. “Our motifs are reminiscent of India, as well as an India of the future. We want to retain the innocence in children through our products and not have them look like mini adults,” says Aditi.

 

Almirah Inside article

 

Meanwhile, Divya’s love for patchwork and recycling can be seen in some of Almirah products such as fabric toys, kantha blankets, and hair accessories. Their products are locally sourced and created by their in-house team of tailors, quilters, and craftsmen who work as collaborators, and sold to retail and individual customers. A major part of their concept is the promotion of fabrics like organic cotton, which we believe is beneficial to all the stakeholders from the farmer to the customer. “The close connection with the tailor and craftsmen, who made your clothes matters, is special. And once people understand that about us, they will pay for our products,” explains Divya.

 

Skeletons in the almirah

 

Asking Indians to revert from the new to the old was as much of a challenge as coaxing their staff – comprising of over 200 cottage industry artisans – to revert from the old to the new. One of their biggest challenges has been to motivate and guide artisans, who are equipped with old world skills, and encourage them to adapt to a new market. What calmed their anxiety was seeing the definite benefits and subsequent returns on going digital and hence international, producing in scale and lastly, Aditi and Divya’s open styles of leadership. “We’re a family of over 30 people across three cities in India. The Almirah family consists of tailors, quilters, printers, sales folk, business developers, consultants, managers, designers and (most definitely) our motifs that help us stay quirky and fun. As a 27-year-old, who is head of the family, I must constantly inspire, motivate, and manage my team. Our work environment is collaborative, open, transparent, and one where people are encouraged to take ownership of their work,” says Aditi.

 

Almirah was founded in 2011 with one retail outlet in Meher Chand Market in New Delhi and the initial response they got from the customers was stupendous. By 2014, they leveraged the goodwill to open stores in Bengaluru, and thereafter, to the city that never sleeps, Mumbai. Meanwhile, their international business was also blossoming from the get-go. They were selling in boutiques across the US since 2012, and this year, their Spring-Summer line sold across 20 states in the US and abroad, in stores like ABC Carpet and Home in NYC and at Holt Renfrew in Canada as well.

 

In 2013, kids-wear, at $8.3 billion, constituted 20 percent of India’s apparel market. To capitalise on this global buzz, they launched their website earlier this year. “It’s been a pleasure seeing little guns across places like Singapore, Russia, Thailand, Dubai, Canada, America, and London sport our creations. We do over 600 sales in Meherchand per month and would like to repeat this in other outlets.” The other two stores (Mumbai and Bengaluru) and their online front are fairly new, so the numbers are still trickling in. “We expect to have a more realistic account of the Mumbai and Bengaluru stores by end of the year.” Over the past four years, the SKUs have grown up to over 400.

 

The leader in the space is Fabindia, the Indian wear brand, which crossed Rs 1,000 crore in sales becoming the largest retail apparel brand in the country. Aditi and Divya Bajpai inside article

 

Coming out of the closet

 

“Today, women in fashion or women in entrepreneurship seem commonplace but back in the 1970s and 1980s it was a challenge to the norm. The retail sector like most others in India is still largely a man’s world. What we’re doing at Almirah is slightly rebellious – right from gender stereotypes to what’s even considered clothing for kids,” says Divya.

 

Their short term goals are to build a stronger team of tailors, craftsmen, and managers. In the long term, they want to sculpt Almirah into an international brand. “We hope to take the collaboration between designers and craftsmen to non-textile related sectors as well. We want to follow a model of inclusive growth where we can infuse a sense of both economic and creative stock sharing,” concludes Divya.

 

 

The Indian Express | 21 August 2016

Sustainable Style Solutions

In 2011, when designer Aditi Bajpai launched her label Almirah, a brand that specialises in children’s clothing, bedding and accessories, she wanted it to champion everything Indian.

 

In 2012, when Justin Bieber sported a new owl tattoo on his arm, he was only affirming a trend that had taken the fashion and design world by storm. For the owl motif had entered contemporary design soon after Hedwig, Harry Potter’s devoted pet, flew into popular consciousness in 2001. It began with the upsurge in bird motifs in the mid-2000s — and once the design world had had enough of sparrows, cranes and flamingoes, the nocturnal bird took centre stage.

 

In India, across home décor stores, the owl can now be seen occupying pride of place on napkins and blankets, tea cups and glasses, on watches, coin purses and cushion covers. It can come in kitschy or whimsical versions, or in more sophisticated avatars. “Around 2009, when I was in New York, I saw an artist work on an owl sketch in his kiosk. It stayed with me, and when I returned to India, I did a design for a phone cover and a notebook. I was stunned at how well it did. Since then, every year, we have done a couple of owl motifs across product ranges and it continues to be one of our hotsellers,” says Krsnaa Mehta, the designer behind the online décor brand, India Circus. Across its range, the owl motif features on door mats, notebooks, cushion covers and phone covers, among other things.

 

In 2011, when designer Aditi Bajpai launched her label Almirah, a brand that specialises in children’s clothing, bedding and accessories, she wanted it to champion everything Indian. “I am greatly inspired by Indian jungles and wanted to bring old Indian motifs back. India’s connect with the owl goes a long way back. It’s goddess Lakshmi’s vahana, you find stories of the wise owl in the Panchatantra. We have had the owl long before JK Rowling made it popular,” she says. Bajpai has been working with the owl motif for the last two years and has now diversified from prints on nightwear to cushions shaped like owls and owl embroideries.

Sustainable Style Solutions | 18 September 2016

My Little Pudding

"We try to maintain the timelessness of our motifs and silhouettes which are very different from a model that focuses on mass production and invoking fast fashion values."

 

On my blog I love promoting brands that I have discovered from all over the world, that are driven with a purpose and passion for creating sustainable handmade products. So when I discovered Almirah, a mother/daughter created business based in Delhi, India I wanted to learn more about their passion for patchwork, recycling and creating a line of kids clothing from ages 0-12.

 

Almirah – What inspired you to start Almirah?

 

Almirah was born on a slow summer afternoon, on our verandah in New Delhi over endless cups of Chai (tea) and conversations my mother and I had been having for years. There was, at the time, a massive change happening in India with a huge influx of foreign brands in the market and we felt a need to establish a balance between commercial, handmade and fashionable wear for children. We wanted to create an Indian brand for Indians away from the mass-produced. They need to be an active participant in society is what made us choose design as a medium and create Almirah: a world of Indian design, fabrics and techniques.

 

One of my early inspirations was a quote by a fashion designer called Bibi Russell who says, “fashion is a culture… and creative people have a lot to give people”. Fashion and design has a political and social element as well that can be used to drive sustainability, slow fashion as an alternative to what exists in the market. India is laden with history in terms of its richness in textiles, culture and at Almirah we try to bring all of this (and a whole lot more) to the fore, through our products and work. We focus on the nostalgia of handmade, motifs and techniques that face the threat of getting left behind in an increasingly mass-produced and mechanised fashion industry.

 

2. Do you make everything on site? Are the items mass-produced, or are they created solely on-site, and kept in small batches? The video you provided it looks like everything is made on site, where do you get your materials from? Is everything locally sourced?

 

We work out of a design studio and manufacturing unit in New Delhi, and use our farm only to design and find inspiration. Having said that, the video is a feeler of the processes involved in making our clothes and give our customers a sneaky little peek into the efforts involved in creating our products.

 

All our articles are made in small batches and are locally sourced from India. We collect and source materials from our travels across the country to find new and innovative ways to create garments. Over the past five years, the Almirah family has collaborated with over 200 artisans, weavers, toy makers to manufacture everything from bedding, to clothes, toys, bags and even jewellery. To put things in some perspective, we haven’t ever had a sale – that’s how small-scale we are in terms of production and design.

 

We try to maintain the timelessness of our motifs and silhouettes which are very different from a model that focuses on mass production and invoking fast fashion values. We strongly believe in inculcating values of timelessness, Indian craft and sustainability even to our little customers and are focused on creating a revolution, one dress at a time, even if it is slow.

 

3. You use recycled materials? Where do get your materials from?

 

Recycling is at the core of our brand philosophy; in fact when our parent company Flying Geese Quilts started we were making patchwork quilts with leftover fabric. Some of our signature products like toys, bunting, limited edition of jewellery and accessories are recycled and even up-cycled to make sure we waste less and spread more goodness.

 

Our retail stores and studio also translate that philosophy which is evident in our furniture and interior design elements: old embroidery machines have been recycled into cash desks and sewing machine tables to work on. We have even made door handles from old machine parts, scissors, door frames and quilting bases as well as hangers which are made out of leftover fabric and scraps.

 

4. What does eco-friendly mean to you? How is your business model helping to shape the way others are doing business in and around your area in India? Is it difficult to instill these practices in India? Do any type of regulations make this practice difficult?

 

Through our fabric we have been championing green fashion since 2011. To us, eco-friendly means green fashion, fashion that doesn’t hurt the environment. Through our fabrics we are taking the world back to a time when India manufactured and wore handmade, sustainable and timeless clothes. Rome wasn’t built-in a day and we are aware of the fact that while the slow fashion revolution is picking up pace unhurriedly, we are confident that an eco-conscious outlook towards clothing will bring into its fold a lot more eco warriors like us.

 

While our business model is firmly rooted in retail (through our stores and online shop) we have worked hard to grow this model by collaborating with over 200 artisans from across the country to cover different fields such as dying, printing, shoe making, jewellery making and weaving. Over the years, we’ve seen many Indian artists and designers incorporate an eco conscious sensibility into their arts and crafts. Just like a domino effect, we will see many more over the next couple of years, join the fold and incorporate an eco-conscious sensibility into their collections.

 

It won’t be difficult instilling these practices into India’s best designers, because inherently we are a country proud of using natural fabric. Until synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon became popular, virtually all our clothes were made of natural materials like wool, cotton, silk and line (including the thread that we use is also cotton). Having said that, terms eco-friendly and sustainable fashion are still new to an India customer (primarily because of the lure of high street fashion) and they have to be educated about the benefits of using natural fabric. Natural fabric is comfortable, resistant, dewy on the skin and does not lack longevity. Through Almirah we trying to inculcate these very values, build awareness and bring them to the forefront.

 

While the Indian government has done a lot over the last decade from reforms in the textile industry, creating clusters in villages and promoting hand-woven fabric, what has been significant is the rise of a startup culture. It has given an impetus to young entrepreneurs to come together, encouraged independent labels to take the plunge and brought to the fore small-medium businesses like ours. However, with FDI (foreign direct investment) and investments in the retail space many more international brands will continue to make inroads into India and in such an environment businesses like ours will have to continue to be lean and innovate to stay ahead.

 

5. Will you be selling your products in stores in the US? Will you be able to purchase the items on site for shipment to the US? What is the price point in US dollars?

 

Almirah hit the American wardrobe 4 years ago and are today present across 20 states in the US. We sell to boutiques and this model has worked incredibly well for us. Having recently set up our website we will soon start shipping – globally, and not just to the US. Our price points vary from $20 to $150 and we sell an array of things to the US market – a mix of Indian and western clothes, bedding and accessories for children from 0-12 years of age.

My Little Pudding | 22 July 2016

Agreeable & Co.

“Through Almirah we wanted to create a label that is not just ‘Made in India’ but conceptualized, designed and produced in India by Indians with a domestic and an international appeal."

 

I’m such a massive fan of The Almirah and have collected & been gifted so many awesome kurta’s, dohars and quilts from friends and family, that I was so excited to feature them on MLP finally!

 

The Almirah was founded by mother and daughter team, Divya and Aditi Bajpai. Almirah, which means “cupboard” in Anglo-Indian, is a special place where one stores keepsakes and momentos. Their Almirah is filled with quirky, playful and organic clothes, bedding and accessories for children. Sizes range from newborns to age 12.

 

Everything is handmade with love. They highlight beautiful techniques and fabrics and transform traditional styles in a modern way using bright colors, fun prints and intricate embroideries. So upgrade your baby’s fashion by indulging in some easy and breezy organic cotton pieces!

 

1. We love that Almirah was founded by a mother-daughter team, can you tell us a little about how you and your mother started?

 

Almirah was created by my mother Divya and I, to create and promote simple, quirky products with an Indian edge which we maintain through our distinct silhouettes, prints and techniques used. My mother has been an entrepreneur for almost three decades and has been selling her work to markets abroad in the UK and US. She started Flying Geese Quilts and has since dabbled with design and Indian handicrafts.

 

While neither of us have formal training in business or design, Almirah grew out of our passion for textiles and love for Indian techniques like weaving, quilting, printing and hand embroidery, which has helped us lay a foundation for the brand. I joined my mother in 2011 which is when we started Almirah, after I had a rather unconventional background in Political Science for a designer. I did my Masters in Political Science at Delhi University and while I was completing my Masters Program I was traveling a lot across North India and became aware of a change that was taking place in modern India: a whole generation of potential craftsmen and artisans were abandoning their traditional skills in the face of industrialization, lack of opportunities and there was a huge shift in aspirations. The recession of 2009 had caused my mother’s garment export business to suffer and many of her karigars (artisans) began to lose their jobs, many of whom I had known since I was a child.

 

Almirah was born on a slow summer afternoon, on our verandah in New Delhi over endless cups of chai and conversations my mother and I had, indeed, been having for years. I was at a point at which I was starting my career and felt a need to do something more tangible and had been, at the time, seeing a massive change in India. There was a huge influx of foreign brands in the market and both my mother and I felt a need to establish a balance between commercial, handmade and fashionable wear for children.

 

2. What are some of their favorite pieces?

 

The signature haathi print quilts and dohars is one of our all-time favourites. The tiger, fish and bandar prints are our absolute favourites too, and have been some of our most fun designs to create. We love bringing back old Indian silhouettes like the kali kurta, the rabari coat, gudris and mix them up with our prints and embellishments. We’re currently working on our next collection and can’t wait to share the newest members of the Almirah family with you. Through Almirah we wanted to create a label that is not just ‘Made in India’ but conceptualized, designed and produced in India by Indians with a domestic and an international appeal. Through our working approach and, design sensibility we are trying to inform our customers about better solutions for modern day kids wear.

 

4. Can you give us your top 5 product recommendations for new mums?

 

Haathi March Mat– Taking inspiration from the tradtional gudaris used by mothers for centuries, Almirah has made this portable sleeping mat. Quilted for baby’s comfort, it is a practical companion when traveling with baby and can be easily folded and put away into your bag.

 

Kimono Haathi March Playsuit– This stylish kimono set is a must have. Almirah’s haathi march design is inspired by the Sanganeri style of printing. The pants come with an elasticised waist and fit comfortably over the diaper. A perfect gift for a newborn. It teams up well with our haathi march bedding set. Minor imperfections in printing and colour are characteristic of handmade items.

 

Swaddle Wrap– Almirah swaddle wrap is an absolute essential for baby and we are giving you just that in our prints. This fabric is made from cotton where the loose weave helps adjust to the baby’s temperature naturally. It is absorbent and softens with every wash. Use it for swaddling, as a sheet, a mop, cover for the stroller and discover many other uses.

 

Burp & Bib Cloth– Mothers little helpers, this bib and burp cloths are made in our haathi march print. This fabric is made from cotton where the loose weave is absorbent and softens with every wash. Minor imperfections in printing and colour are characteristic of handmade items.

 

Shhh Baby– Hang this message anywhere this message on the door, the nursery or in the house quiet to get some peace and quiet. A great gift for showers and nurseries.

 

5. What’s next for Almirah?

 

We are focused on developing Almirah into an international brand and hope to take the collaboration between designers and craftsmen to non-textile related sectors as well. We also plan to expand Almirah to new cities in India and abroad through collaborations with other retail stores, increasing our presence in boutiques across the US and Europe and focusing on expanding our e-commerce business. We will also continue to build a stronger team of tailors, craftsmen and managers.

 

Through Almirah’s international and national expansion we hope to reiterate a fashion philosophy that strikes the right balance between handmade and everyday wear that is affordable, embellished, trendy and personal.

Agreeable & Co. | 15 October 2016

Her Saga

We work with natural material for our fabrics, threads and even buttons which are made from coconut shells. Everything is sourced and designed locally and we manufacture most of our products in New Delhi.

 

What inspired the creation of your company, and when did it start?

 

Over the past 5 years, we have expanded to stores across India, USA, Dubai, Singapore, Russia, Netherlands. We also sell exclusively out of our 3 retail stores in India and online shop. Here’s a link to give you a glimpse of the family behind our brand who help us revive crafts, silhouettes and skills and reiterate a design that is contemporary, timeless and yet fun.

 

After the recession, India saw many small and medium businesses close down and an increase in the influx of fast fashion foreign brands in the market. That’s when we realized that we wanted to establish an Indian brand that changed the discourse around handmade, timeless and fashionable wear. Almirah was born in New Delhi in 2011. What is your brand’s mission, and what causes drive you and your team? Our mission is to provide an (Indian) alternative brand that promotes sustainability, crafts and values of eco-consciousness, with a global appeal in mind. Our fabrics, weaves and prints help us spread awareness among our customers about the impact of all our choices on the environment. Creating and spreading these values drives our team forward.

 

How is your brand socially responsible?

 

We’re focused on contributing towards the slow fashion movement with our silhouettes, skills and values. Our commitment towards creating sustainable solutions for skilled and unskilled labour is evident in our collaborations over the past five years. We are also conscious of sourcing material locally and recycle everything from old sewing machines to scraps of fabric.

 

What does your brand do to lower its ecological impact and/or promote environmental health and well-being?

 

Conscious of the impact of the fashion industry on global warming, we ensure that are products are made from natural fabrics, have a timeless appeal and that the manufacturing process takes into account ‘the local’. We aim to create with waste, promote the use of natural dyes, organic cottons and are actively iterating on ways to lower our carbon footprint.

 

Does your company perform animal testing and/or use animal-based ingredients in your products? Why or why not?

 

We are cruelty free and do not believe in animal testing.

 

Where does your company make/manufacture your products, and why? Everything is sourced and designed locally and we manufacture most of our products in New Delhi. Our products are made in-house because we like to maintain a hold on the quality of our goods.

 

Describe your design philosophy – how do you balance quality and affordability? When we talk about affordability, we aren’t talking about prices certain brands promote which lack longevity, are seasonal, trendy, disposable and thus cheap. The point of developing an eco-conscious attitude towards fashion is to embrace a “waste less” and encourage a “less is more” mindset. Almirah reflects this philosophy – we are high on quality, timelessness and hence, affordable.

 

Tell us a little about the ingredients/materials you use. Generally, why did you pick them over other options?

 

We work with natural material for our fabrics, threads and even buttons which are made from coconut shells. Our fabrics are all natural, as opposed to synthetic ones which are unable to break down and decompose, causing more green house emissions. Markets today are flooded with mass produced low quality materials and, from the very start, we wanted to ensure that we’d never used such materials.

 

What are the next steps for your company?

 

We are focused on growing Almirah into a global brand and plan to expand to non-textile related sectors as well. We will continue to reiterate the importance of handmade and everyday wear that is affordable, trendy and personal.

 

How do you view the future of conscious consumption?

 

The future of conscious consumption is bright with a revolution taking place across industries. In such a scenario, customers are becoming conscious of their choices and helping brands take notice of this shift ensuring they cater to customer needs. At Almirah, we view our customers not as consumers, rather as equal stakeholders who are dictating what kind of a future we should build towards.

 

As a parting sentiment, if you could only use one word to describe your brand ethos – what would it be?

 

Timeless

Her Saga | 13 November 2017

Indian Women Institutional League

“Through Almirah we want to bring back what Indian fashion stood for: timelessness, affordable, simple, sustainable and handmade."

.

 

 

Brief introduction about yourself and tell us something about Almirah, a unique portal?

 

Founded in 2011, Almirah (Anglo-Indian for cupboard) is a special place for things to be stored away: a world of colours, smells and textures. Almirah was started by my mother, Divya Bajpai and me in New Delhi. My mother has been a garment entrepreneur for almost three decades; and so I have always grown up around fabric and handicrafts. It was during my Masters in Political Science that I realised my passion for design and conceptualised the need to revive an Indian aesthetic and create something that was made, conceptualized and designed in India.

 

Almirah specializes in making clothing, nightwear and bedding for children that are distinct and are increasingly going missing in a flourishing mass-produced retail sector. Our products reflect our deep seeded belief in sustainability with crafts and sourcing locally from India i.e. cotton, linens, handloom weaves and silks. Over the past five years, we have grown to have three exclusive stores in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. We are also selling to boutiques in India and abroad with a similar philosophy to ours.

 

What ignited the spark in you to create such an innovative platform to pioneer a much needful change?

 

With Almirah we wanted to establish a balance between commercial, handmade and fashionable wear. We wanted to give Indians memory wears of some sorts through our products and motifs. At the core of our brand was the need to generate employment for skilled workers, weavers and artisans and create newer meaningful products with their crafts.

 

Please share your future goals for your portal.

 

Through Almirah we want to bring back what Indian fashion stood for: timelessness, affordable, simple, sustainable and handmade. We feel privileged that in five years, we have worked with artisans and produced products across 550 SKUs and evolved an Indian design that has a global appeal.

 

What all challenges did you face during starting phase of this platform.

 

Like any other entrepreneur, having no formal education in design or business was an initial setback, but that makes you work harder and learn from your experiences.

 

What are your views on the thought, that women entrepreneurs are equally or more capable and they must be supported and encouraged, to come up front and bring a radical change?

We have to challenge the norms and stereotypes that constrain our growth but women entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs at the end of the day. Your product, your service, your quality are what matters. A customer doesn’t see your gender when they come into your shop!

What piece of advice would you like to give to the females who wish to pursue their dream of becoming an entrepreneur?

 

Take the risk and jump into the deep end because there is nothing more fulfilling than following your dream.

According to you, what are the top three essential skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Hardwork, frugal thinking and a sense of humour.

How do you manage the work-life balance?

 

Delegation is most important in having a work-life balance. While entrepreneurs tend take on more than we can do, every successful start up or business requires a solid team that works together.

 


What are your views and opinions towards the ambiguous need to promote women entrepreneurship and women empowerment in India?

It is hard to move beyond systematic inequalities and norms that exist for women in India but there are many of us trying to challenge these biases. At Almirah, we’ve stayed focused on iterating and moving beyond problems that come with running a business, where manufacturing remains largely a man’s world. We definitely need more women centric initiatives to counter not just rigid regulations but to help young women entrepreneurs striving for change.


Words for IWIL.


The Indian start up ecosystem will benefit from organizations like IWIL working for women entrepreneurs. When I started Almirah five years ago, there were fewer avenues to seek advice and every entrepreneur needs mentors, platforms and guidance in order to succeed. Wishing you all the success!

Indian Women Institutional League | 1 December 2016