The idea of Indian fashion probably evokes visions of colorful garments, exquisitely embroidered, and garments with centuries-old print techniques that have been appreciated the world over. Think luxurious jacquards in the Yves Saint Laurent collections, the stunning prints on Valentino dresses, or the embroideries at Alessandro’s Gucci or Maria Grazia’s Dior — Indian heritage craft has inspired luxury maisons for decades.
The mix of ancient art juxtaposed with international trends has led to the emergence of several young designers from India who are blending contemporary aesthetics for the new age global consumer. There are a lot more Indian fashion brands being conceptualized and launched in the country on the daily, making it an effervescent place for fashion, with a scene to keep an eye on.
Team Capsul has curated a list of front runners crusading a wave of evolution in the Indian youth fashion scene. Here are a dozen brands, in no particular order, that we love.
Read on to find out about the best Indian fashion brands of the moment:
NorBlack NorWhite, founded by Mriga Kapadiya and Amrit Kumar, is more than a brand; it is a community-fueled lifestyle led by two powerful women of Indian origin, by way of Toronto. NBNW focuses on maintaining textile culture and artisan communities in India.
While it turns 11 this year, the brand has been a lifetime in the making. The founders use their own voice, aesthetic, and community to create products for a global audience. The Toronto-bred designers blend Indian tie-and-dye techniques such as Bandhni and Ikat with unconventional fabrics and silhouettes. Typical NorBlack NorWhite collections include worker jackets, track-sets, T-shirts with larger fits, flowy textiles, and prints.
With an impressive body of work, NorBlack NorWhite have already collaborated with FILA India, Bephie’s Beauty Supply, Budweiser India, Adidas, Air Canada, Melody Ehsani and Footlocker, and Major Lazer on styling the duo for the “Lean On” music video. One of their most iconic products has been the “Colonialism was a Start Up” tee in collaboration with artist Somnath Bhatt, who formulated the phrase.
The brand is available exclusively at norblacknorwhite.com. All products are made when orders are placed, in line with the brand’s vision to be less wasteful and have proceeds go directly to the people making them.
Dhruv Kapoor is an eponymous label projecting the founder’s visual experiences and eclectic tastes. Founded in 2014, it weaves feminism and empowerment into its very fabric.
The designer has a very curious yet powerful process — every now and then, he picks something he hates and works around it until he falls in love with it. Fascinated with the excesses that India has to offer, Kapoor pairs this with his education and personal affinity for a minimal aesthetic. With a firm belief that personal style is a statement to the world, Kapoor aims to bring positive conversations around equality. The brand weaves boldness through design, with the intent of making the wearer feel like their clothes are their armor.
Kapoor works closely with talented craftsmen, training them with new techniques, materials, and approaches. As a result, handcrafted embroideries are his bestsellers globally. Today, the label retails worldwide in the USA, Europe, Middle East, and Japan.
An unapologetic, fun, break-the-rules, unisex, and women's brand, JAYWALKING*^ is a combination of art, craftmanship, and sartorial streetwear from India. Jay Jajal burst onto the Indian streetwear scene in early 2019 with JAYWALKING*^, a label rich in fabrics and design. Every aspect of the brand is a reflection of the founder himself, and has a well-thought-out, precise visual grammar. From the type of clothes he makes to the way he communicates the brand’s identity, Jay and the brand have hit the pulse of what the fashion-forward Indian Gen Z and the cool kid want; it’s rebellious, but all in good energy.
Jay is also an artist and has been literally using his clothes as his canvas. His background in traditional fashion and his team of master karigars (craftsmen) bring his art to life through beautiful embroidery and prints on his collections. From his knack for dropping the hottest silhouettes to using his logo as a piece of art itself and putting together an incredible colour pallete on each piece, JAYWALKING*^ dominates the Indian sneakerhead community’s wardrobe.
With consumers including the likes of Bollywood celebrities, musicians, and top bloggers from across the world, this brand is going places.
HUEMN is a cultural provocateur, aiming to celebrate craft, the craftsman, and the viewer while creating a relevant product that is informed by the political, social, and cultural landscape of our times.
The brand has an organic origin story. The name itself is a play on words: hue for color, and human in spirit, focused on community and diversity. The founders met at design school in India and aspired to create a label that would make exciting, affordable, ready-to-wear clothes that were fearless in approach. They set out to enmesh tough subjects into their lines, be an ally to a community, focus on craftsmanship and impact, and tell great stories. Nine years later, the brand has done exactly that.
Armed with both a contemporary study of fashion and access to skilled artisans omnipresent in India, the brand launched its first line at India Fashion Week in 2012. From being the first label to pair sneakers with the Indian sari on the runway to having conversations about body positivity through their lines, HUEMN has been at the forefront of integrating things that matter to millennials.
Bodice is a label from India that creates essentials from a cornucopia of textiles and history. It portrays a love for traditional crafts from a modern and contemporary point of view.
Bodice was founded by Ruchika Sachdeva in response to an internal call to create high quality, long lasting clothes with textiles and crafts from Indian culture. It focuses on the essential over the abundant.
While the textbook definition of Bodice is the upper part of a modern dress, the science of patter- making defines it as the primary block with which everything begins. Bodice got its name by drawing upon that philosophy of "going back to one’s roots" and letting "form follow function."
BISKIT is a unisex concept label that offers cerebral products designed with fabrics that are easy to care for.
The sibling founders, Shruti and Harsha Biswajit, are artists who use apparel as their creative expression. In essence, BISKIT was born in Brooklyn, and now has its home in Madras, India and has an aesthetic that merges a Brooklyn vibe with their Indian background.
BISKIT’s vision is to create a design studio at the intersection of fashion, art, design, and collaboration. Seeing how the clothing industry has long been shaped and categorized as menswear and womenswear, a BISKIT piece is designed to break the binary of gender. In the process, they find freedom to focus on what matters most to them — comfort, functionality, and good design.
With interesting collaborations ranging from product drops to installations, music to photography, and with creatives across the world, BISKIT has baked the ancient Indian philosophy of sharing into their products — they encourage not just buying less and wearing well, but sharing with friends and family, because with a BISKIT product, you actually can!
Everything about ALMOST GODS –– from the name to their collections to their story-telling –– is centered around art and applying it to everyday concepts in order to transcend commodities into items of desire.
The independent fashion brand — which was started by Dhruv Khurana in 2018 and operates out of New Delhi — has received a lot of notoriety for their red, oversized drape hoodie. The brand’s product ideology aims at establishing “Indian Futurity." Through their products, ALMOST GODS strives to broaden the conversation around what a brand from India is capable of creating.
Resurrected fabrics give a second life to used fabrics, whether that means stripping off jacquard fabrics from old couches for use in jackets or sourcing used Indian fabrics and upcycling them into shirts.
The name ALMOST GODS draws from the founder’s connection with the postmodernist ideology of levelling the playing field. This ideology allowed Khurana, a brown kid, to believe that he could influence the global zeitgeist the way culture shapers of color had done before. Each collection includes outerwear, T-shirts, shirts, pouches, hats, and even shoe laces.
KGL is an acronym for Kanika Goyal Label, a namesake menswear, womenswear, and accessories label started by Kanika Goyal in 2014. The brand aims to deliver intellectually designed, neo-luxury pieces suffused with sartorial cool.
Celebrating a non-traditionalist point of view, the brand intends to deconstruct the rigid perception of tailoring. Architecture, specifically intersecting shapes and the play of shadow and light, have regularly inspired the brand's modernist take on color-blocking. With a graduate degree in fashion design from India’s premier fashion design institute, the National Institute of Fashion Technology in New Delhi, internships with powerhouses like Marchesa and Prada, and a subsequent degree at Parsons New York, Goyal fine-tuned her skills in all spheres of design. Both formal training and natural curiosity led her to evolve from a designer to a global couturier, obsessed with quality and detail. KGL is a distillation of all her influences and design philosophies.
Her collections are euphoric, tailored, and often provocative. They’re built for today’s audience that prefers a gender fluid, ready-to-wear style.
Garuda SS was conceptualized by self-taught designer Suhail Sahrawat, and gets its name from both the mythical warrior bird from the Indian sub-continent as well as the army regiment of which the founder’s father was a part of. Their story started in New Zealand in 2015, and from 2017 has flourished in an Indian town called Panchkula, about 250 km from the nation’s capital, Delhi. Garuda also serves as a consulting company offering services such as design, sampling, and production.
They are, notably, India’s only techwear brand. The label treats clothing as more than a form of expression; their main focus is on how the wearer interacts both with the garment and their environment. They create high-quality engineered garments like their signature “Workpant V2.1,” the brand's update on a double knee carpenter pant made with feature-rich and eco-friendly futuristic textiles.
With ACRONYM, Aitor Throup, and Carhartt as the brand’s influences, you know you’ve got quality and clever design when you hold any Garuda SS piece in your hands.
Moral Science is a love story of rich couture heritage and skilled technique crafted and told in vivid color across the gender spectrum. Is there a science to morality? Who decides what is moral and immoral? The founder of the label, Isha Ahluwalia, reminisces about her “Moral Science” class from her school days, which often led to interesting interpretations.
The answers to those questions lay in exploring and subverting the ideas of morality; everything can be seen in different, valid ways, which is what her label attempts to represent.
The brand came about from a need to create functional, fun clothing and accessories for the nascent Indian market that has, in recent times, begun consuming streetwear like never before. The brand’s clothing and accessories are sexy, androgynous, and functional, with a hint of irreverence, yet deeply rooted in the crafts of the land.
Young and edgy like its founder Abhishek Paatni, NoughtOne is a mix of streetwear and the tailored. Unafraid to play with experimental details, the label showcases ready-to-wear mens clothing that is utilitarian, dynamic, and urban.
Paatni's tryst with fashion began with an Indian ready-to-wear label after he completed his Masters in Business Administration. The experience inspired him to start a brand that mashed up the free expression of streetwear with a generalized sense of mainstream clothing. Encapsulating his fascination for numbers on clothes in his branding, he launched NoughtOne, which simply refers to 01.
Key silhouettes in NoughtOne’s collection are packaged with modern hardware, military influences, and a pop color palette. The brand creates an exciting take on traditional Indian wear pieces like the Kurta, the Bandhgala, and the Nehru Jacket, deconstructing and reimagining them in modern utilitarian silhouettes. NoughtOne is a high street fashion label that showcases an exciting amalgamation of activewear and streetwear.
PRXKHXR is an eponymous textile- and print-based label that creates some of the most exciting shirts you can find around the globe today.
A chance Instagram conversation with multi-hyphenate Bobby Kim during the 2020 lockdown saw PRXKHXR become the first ever Indian brand to collaborate with the iconic The Hundreds. The drop was centered around a special print created by founder Prakhar for the collaboration. It illustrated a peacock and tiger engaged in battle, intensified by the contrast between the serenity of the scene and the violence depicted. Brought to life on T-shirts, shirts, shorts, and an anorak, these are must-haves in anyone’s wardrobe.
The brand was started while its founder was still at design school, where one of his print collections for textile design class was turned into a drop of shirts. To his surprise, one of his classmates bought a shirt from the collection and took it to social media. This brought in a flurry of orders and made him realize that this was what he wanted to do. Since then, Prakhar has been designing and developing prints from scratch. While streetwear has encouraged a lot of creatives to bring their expression out through T-shirts, PRXKHXR’s go-to medium has been the camp collar shirt.