Quiet Aes­thet­ics

Brinda Gill pro­files Kish­mish, a cloth­ing la­bel known for its sim­ple, stylish de­signs that up­hold the tra­di­tion of hand­made tex­tiles and hand-tai­lored cloth­ing.

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“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 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


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