∙ Sisters mix it up with new label, Sant Lafleur
In 1966 Yves Saint Laurent introduced Le Smoking to the world and prompted the androgynous revolution. Over the course of his career his many innovative creations revolutionized the fashion industry. Fast forward to 2015, sisters Sonu and Puneet hope to have the same impact on the Indian fashion industry with their label, Sant Lafleur.
Like the true beginnings of any successful designer, the sisters spent their childhood days sketching and putting on fashion shows in their hallway. When it came time to go to university, the duo took a break from designing and pursued business, and eventually careers in banking. “You do need that business acumen to learn how to build your own business model. Fashion is a business, figuring out how to take your innovations and make them a reality is a skill on its own and takes time to learn,” says Sonu. With the right amount of funds, they launched Sant Lafleur from their home and boutique, and created their e-commerce site in February. The name of their label has spe- cial significance and is a perfect representation of the brand’s Indo-canadian heritage. Sant represents the county in India where the sisters were born, Sant Nagar, and Lafleur is the name of the street they grew up on in Canada. From the beginning the two designers knew they wanted to be different from other e-commerce Indian labels, both in quality and design. “We only use pure fabrics, and very intricate and unique heritage-like styles. We’ve built a name for ourselves for having very unique pieces. It’s all really fine work and it’s also very unique and still has a lot of Indian history to it because of the hand work.” Sant Lafleur’s design philosophy is evident in their first collection, Bombay Botanicals. “The influence for us was a Zen garden and it kind of has that balance between quality and the calmness of a botanical garden.” The full skirts and embroidery are also a reflection of the sisters’ personal style. “My sister and I are both very feminine and romantic in our clothing, so that’s why you see the high waisted-skirt and the full volume. We love skirts, we love to dress up, we love pinks and purples, we love floral embroidery and I think you’re seeing that in our botanical vision,” said Sonu. Their feminine style
is mixed with masculine silhouettes with traditional and modern elements to create the perfect blending of opposing ideas, a nod to their Indo-canadian heritage. “I think there are elements of our design that feel very traditional but there are also silhouettes you would see on the Western front. What I find with some Indian clothes is that they can become uncomfortable or they become too matchymatchy. The west has done really well to push the envelope in making someone comfortable in different prints or fabrics and combining the different elements.” Their unique take on fashion is inspired by another pioneer, albeit controversial in fashion: Kanye West. “Who I admire most in the fashion industry is Kanye West. I think he really pushes the boundaries and he really made that baggy clothing look more sophisticated. I wouldn’t necessarily dress like him but he has had a major impact on the fashion industry,” said Puneet. Like any new venture, Sonu and Puneet faced their fair share of difficulties, especially with the back-and-forth between India and Canada to create their first line. But all that fades into the background when you ask them about the most memorable moment in their design journey. “When we did our first fashion shoot, when we finally saw the clothes come to life on somebody else, we were like Ok wow, this is something. That was the first time we felt we had accomplished something, because we were just putting our heads down and designing and not necessarily seeing the end result just yet. That was an eye opening experience.” The sisters’ journey began with a single step, and a lot of bravery. “We finally had the guts to do it and not be afraid of what everyone else is doing. I think people have that fear of putting themselves out there and being afraid that others won’t like what they see. There are both negatives and positives but I think now that we’re older we’re not as afraid of that, we’re not afraid of taking those leaps.”
Entreprenuerial siblings, Sonu (L) and Puneet (R)