As covered by P. Yamini on March 9, 2013
Translated version of original article –
It was in the 1990s that a girl with a sparkle in her eyes had a vision. It was while graduating in clothing and design from Dharwad Agricultural University that Mini Shibu was inspired by her teacher to join National Institute of Design in Apparel Design. Mini Shibu was in the MINC ecofashion store in Malleshwaram, Mantri Mall, Bangalore, as she ruminated about her dreams and her life.
MINC ecofashion is Mini’s dream project. Bringing to fore the unknown facets of khadi and varieties in design is the aim of MINC ecofashion as per Mini. Her teacher Grace Varghese in Dharwad Agricultural University was instrumental in this. It was her teacher Grace who enlightened her about NID and the apparel design course there. For Mini this was a turning point, as she went on to join NID Ahmedabad and subsequently put to practice what she learnt there. Working in tandem with Kerala, Mini created a clothing collection titled Kairali Mitra. In those days, Kairali Mitra was a pioneering concept. From a handloom unit in Balaramapuram, Mini worked on a project using Kathakali, Kalaripayattu and Theyyam as a theme for the clothing collection. These included kurtas, churidars, capris and skirts. At that time, nobody had ventured out with this kind of a concept, Mini remembered passionately.
After her marriage to Shibu, a naval officer, travel became an integral part of her life. With the transfer of her husband from place to place, Mini could learn about fashion in these places. Later, once Shibu took VRS from his job, she shifted with her daughter to Bangalore. It was in 2007 that MINC made a beginning at the Sigma Mall in Cunningham Road. Mini’s design collections are focused on khadi. Khadi garments are made with beautiful embroidery and applique work, whose designs cater from four year olds and upwards. From 2006, Mini did research for a year before starting her dream project. The design cycle for each fabric is six months. The colour combination is selected and sent to the dyeing unit in Gandhigramam. It was during one such journey that familiarised Dr. Bharathan at the natural dye unit. It was he who talked about the cotton farmers of Sittilingi. In the journey of enquiring about the cotton farmers, it was known that the unit was run by the Dr couple of Reji Matthew and Latha Matthew who are Malayalis. It was a pleasant surprise that Dr Reji was indeed an old schoolmate and friend of Shibu, which turned out to be helpful. In addition to Khadi, linen, silk, cotton, and natural and vegetable dyed garments are main attractions.
Mini is from Kozhikode and is the daughter of ex-HAL employee, Mr Varkey. Mini’s daughter, a PUC student, also helps her in designing. Mini has a design studio at Cox Town, with about 15 employees. In the coming days, Mini plans to get her khadi garments online. With this, Mini hopes that her clothes will get international reach and recognition.
MINC is now located at it’s independent store & studio at: #110, 1st Cross Vivekananda Nagar, near ITC Infotech Park, Bangalore – 560 033