Brinda Gill profiles Kishmish, a clothing label known for its simple, stylish designs that uphold the tradition of handmade textiles and hand-tailored clothing.
“We wanted to take handmade textiles and create comfortable clothing, ensuring that there is no compromise on quality and comfort,” says Rekha Bhatia of Kishmish, the garment label launched by her and Nikki Kalia in 2009. Rekha, a weaver, and Nikki, a specialist in textile printing, brought their love for natural textiles and comfortable clothing to create the label. “The label was created with the intent to design easy, comfort-oriented clothing and textiles such as scarves and shawls with a simple, stylish aesthetic. Each piece is exquisitely crafted with attention to cut and detail. In a world overwhelmed by technology, we aim to preserve the tradition of handmade textiles and finely tailored clothing.”
The name ‘Kishmish’ recalls the simple treat of
kishmish (raisins) that Rekha and Nikki would get from their grandmothers when they were young. They believe that the garments they design will bring their clients the same simple, spontaneous joy that they felt as children enjoying raisins! The label features collections of women’s garments that are made of cotton, khadi, linen, silk and brocade, in cuts that are comfortable, stylish and drape well, and designs that are versatile.
The designers take every effort to minimise waste and upcycle waste fabric in creative and aesthetic ways. The garments are stitched on foot pedal sewing machines (to minimise the use of electricity, which is used only for ironing the garments once they are ready) and are handfinished, thus supporting artisans.
THE HAND OF THE ARTISAN
The foundation of Kishmish’s ethos is working with artisans. Thus, their designing starts from sourcing handcrafted textiles from reputable NGOs working with artisans, as it is easier to coordinate and obtain the fabrics from them than from several textile artisans directly. They interact with NGOs whom they know personally, whose work they know and about whom they are assured that they offer fair wages to artisans.
Within each textile type, the designers source a variety of fabrics. Cotton textiles include fabrics that are hand-woven in different techniques (such as ikat), embellished with hand-block prints and natural dyed cloth. Within natural dyed cloth is also a variety; for instance, indigo fabrics span indigo cloth that has been dyed six times for saturated tones to those that look like denim as they are woven with a kora (off-white) warp and indigo yarn weft. Silks and brocades are sourced from vendors who source these fabrics woven on handlooms rather than powerlooms. As each bolt of cloth is individually handcrafted, slubs, irregularities and colour variations are inherent in the garments and are taken as indicative of handcrafted fabrics.
The designers typically get hand-woven cloth in small takas of 15 metres of each fabric. This means that there are fewer repeats of a
SILKS AND BROCADES ARE SOURCED FROM VENDORS WHO SOURCE THESE FABRICS WOVEN ON HANDLOOMS RATHER THAN POWERLOOMS.