As covered by M.K. Dileep Kumar on March 23, 2013
khadi is fashion – khadiyanu fashion
Translated version of the original article –
If you say khadi and linen is monopolised by men, Mini disagrees. Mini’s fashion line-up for women over fifty and children are breaking barriers.
M.K. Dileep Kumar.
Be it shirts or dhotis, khadi handloom clothes do stand out in a league of their own. Whilst the big brands are selling like hot cakes in the malls, the new generation seems to have become distant to khadi and handlooms. During these changing times, Mini Shibu has proven that this traditional industry can be made popular. Breaking the general perception that khadi and linen are for men, Mini has come up with a colourful variety of clothes for women and children, promoting the concepts of eco-friendly fashion through ethical trade practices. Integration of the cotton farmers and weavers in the ever changing cycle of fashion is also the intent of this venture. Read on about the travails and triumphs of Bangalore, Kammanahalli resident Mini and her eco fashion . . .
The trendy looks of Balaramapuram
Making khadi and linen a trend with women is the high point of MINC ecofashion pioneered by Mini at Mantri mall in Malleshwaram Bangalore. Mini has proven decades back that handloom and women’s clothes do go well together.
After graduating from National Institute of Design (NID) Ahmedabad in apparel Design, Mini joined Mitraniketan at Vellanad in Thiruvananthapuram for training. In those days, Mini used Balaramapuram handloom fabrics to design tops, skirts, churidars and kurtas to the delight of women and girls. It was the first time that a modern look had been given to handloom fabrics by bringing in the latest fashion for women.
After marriage Mini joined her husband Shibu, who is a naval officer to his place of work and so, she could not continue with Kairali Mitra for long.
Even as she was working as a designer in many of the leading garment companies, starting a venture of her own was always on top on her mind. The periodical transfers of her husband gave her the opportunity to reside in many cities and learn about the fashion in those places. It was after they anchored their life in Bangalore, that she decided to start a design studio exclusively for eco-friendly clothes.
Joining hands with farmers and weavers
After leaving her job as a designer in a leading company, she spent one and a half years travelling and researching. It was in 2007 that MINC ecofashion came to be.
MINC ecofashion is not just another store. The community of cotton farmers, weavers, dyeing artisans, tailors and craftsmen, all form an integral part of this chain. What started as an exclusive khadi collection, expanded to include linen, organic cotton and silk. Sourcing cotton from farmers, weaving, colour selection, designing, tailoring, and embroidery, are all directly under Mini’s supervision. She had to shoulder heavy responsibilities from the start because of her aim, single handedly managing all these aspects.
Mini says that it is not only for her, it is a source of income for the hundreds of workers in the sector.
Cotton is bought from the traditional farmers of Sittilingi and delivered to Gandhigramam in Tamil Nadu. After dyeing and spinning, it is taken to Subalapuram in Tamil Nadu for weaving.
The fabric that is brought to Bangalore is prepared and only after pre-shrinking, is it taken up for stitching. Pre-shrinking is done so that the garment does not shrink after washing. There is incentive provided from the income generated to everyone in the khadi chain.
Fashion yearnings of the elderly
Mini was particular that fashion should be adapted for the Indian condition in keeping with the latest trends. Before starting MINC ecofashion, the journey in search of variety in fashion ended in Paris.
The forecast of trends a year in advance by Premier Vision exhibition in Paris, turned out to be helpful. Mini was focussing on areas which other brands would normally not reach out to. The collections for senior women are a good example. Even the leading brands do not cater to the fashion yearnings of the women over fifty. Yet, Mini has developed an exclusive collection for them. Similarly, new and trendy clothes were brought out for children.
In quality and performance, linen, khadi and organic cotton are beyond challenge. Not only does it give satisfaction to those wearing the clothes, it is also environment friendly. Even the colouring is done using vegetable dyes.
Success has no gender bias
That women can succeed in business had been proved by many before. Mini opines that there is no gender bias in this matter. Be it women or men, both can succeed in the field of their interest but, they should be well prepared. For any business one must study the pros and cons before venturing in.
One needs to be passionate and committed for the job to be done. Above all this is the solid support of the family behind. Mini says that the unstinted support of her husband and family is the reason behind her success.
People decide their fashion
One should keep up with the changing times. Mini says that Khadi and handloom needs to bring in the latest fashion trends for it to find traction. One must cater to the demands of the consumers. We try and meet the consumer’s demands for design and colour to bring out trendy stuff. Mini is confident that if you adapt with the changing times, the traditional clothes will find good market even in Kerala. The Malayali consumers who visit MINC ecofashion do enquire about starting something similar in Kerala too.
Kerala is only a mouse click away
The next target is to facilitate online shopping for people from the comfort of their homes, from any part of the country. The last minute finishing touches for this is in progress.
In the event that the size needs to be changed, the customer can simply courier it back. Following which, the correct size will then be couriered to them.
MINC is now located at it’s independent store & studio at: #110, 1st Cross Vivekananda Nagar, near ITC Infotech Park, Bangalore – 560 033