15 Indian brands that will add some desi tadka to your wardrobe
Caution: Reading this story may lead to a depleted bank account
We’ve got our qualms with Facebook *strike that* Meta, but Mark Zuckerburg has given us something to be grateful for as well. We’re not just talking about his infamous sunscreen mishap serving as a reminder to find the right water-resistant sunscreen. When the ‘save’ post option was added to Instagram, our life changed. We could save the memes we saw at 3 AM to share with our friends the next day (since we had told them we were hanging up because we had to sleep). The endless scrolling served some purpose, so to speak. Unlike the aspirational workouts we bookmark on Youtube and never end up doing (here are some do-able beginner-friendly workouts). Our saved collection is filled with creators of all kinds, not so much for what they specialise in, but for the outfits they’re wearing.
If our wealth manager has anyone to blame, it would be this crop of influencers who’re helping us discover homegrown brands, including a slew of ethnic wear brands to shake up our staid jeans-and-t-shirt look.
When you talk about traditional clothes or ethnic wear brands, there are usually two routes the conversation can take. The first is the people for whom comfort equals Patiala salwar and cotton kurtas and are constantly seeking out new ethnic wear brands. The second are the ones who think that Indian ethnic clothes only make an appearance during the festive season and weddings. On any other day, we may be guilty of harbouring a secret bias that only ‘aunties’ are supposed to wear Indian casuals (It’s true, see what happened when one writer swapped her T-shirts for kurtis for a week).
But through Instagram, we’ve been introduced to ethnic wear brands who do everyday casuals with something to offer the aficionados and newbies alike. These include traditional block prints and weaves crafted into new-age silhouettes. Bold colours and cuts in luxe fabrics, but also the pillowy of easy-breezy cotton that makes you feel like a cool cloud on a hot summer day.
Instagram made us buy these. There was definitely no free will involved. We apologise in advance for your depleting bank balance.
15 ethnic wear brands you won’t regret falling in love with
Photo credit: (L) Amrita Thakur and (R) NEH
Amrita Thakur’s giving us summer ice lolly feels in this lime green mulmul wrap anarkali set (₹9,900) by NEH. The mirror work on the yoke and sleeves add a certain ethereal element to the entire outfit. Especially in the lilac variation.
The set includes the anarkali wrap-around and cotton pants with lace around the hem. But given the weather right now, we’d drop the pants altogether and wear the top as a dress to feel the breeze between our knees.
Photo credit: (L) Isha Borah and (R) Rust Orange
Isha Borah’s feed is like our personal Pinterest board of all the clothes we wish we owned. This yellow ochre and white saree was our introduction to the brand Rust Orange.
The label’s mul cotton saris stood out, so while we await the return of the one worn by Borah to their catalogue, we took a gander through their current offerings and found a favourite.
A combination of white, red and floral prints, this sari (₹2,899) comes with a belt which you can wear as is shown or drop it altogether. What we love about Rust Orange is the mix of different prints and fabric pieces into one effortless sari.
Photo credit: (L) Natasha Luthra and (R) Sil-Sila
We stepped into a world of unique prints and fun silhouettes after seeing Natasha Luthra sporting this rich blue co-ord set from Sil-Sila.
If it’s too rich for your tastes, we’d go for the Watch Me Manifest set that takes the paisleys from your grandmother’s boring bedsheet, gives it a zing in bold red and pairs it with tapered pants of the same colour. You’re going to be a head-turner regardless of which one you pick (prices for both on request).
Photo credit: (L) Roshni Chopra and (R) Bunaai
Roshni Chopra has introduced us to more ethnic wear brands than most and Bunaai remains among our favourites. Primarily because theirs is a label that offers something for everyone – lehengas, saris, kurtas or nightwear — taking into consideration the comfort of all body types.
We’re drawn to their neutral colours and classic silhouettes. Namely, the spring green dorya suit set (₹ 4,500). The wrap-style front and cinched waist will flatter everyone’s natural form. There’s something very soothing about this colour, and the sheen of the gota patti work on the dupatta sweetens the deal.
Photo credit: (L) Nischita Babu and (R) Nama:Stay
Nischita Babu’s vibrant pink kaftan was hard to forget. More than the colour itself was the embroidery from Nama:Stay that caught our eye.
Intricately woven patterns cover a variety of colours and styles ranging from short kurtis to longer kurtas, kaftans, winter coats and even some home decor items.
While we’re partial to this prussian blue kurta (price on request), there’s definitely going to be a colour and style that catches your eye. Dress it up or dress it down, it’s up to you.
Photo credit: (L) Kriti Kulhari and (R) Tokree
After seeing actor Kriti Kulhari in this outfit from Tokree, we spent a good hour or so (when we should have been working) going through all their sartorial options and when we tell you this has been one of the toughest decisions we’ve made recently, take us seriously.
Tokree’s designs show us that there is elegance in simplicity and that it’s the smaller details that make it more refined.
If you like monochrome outfits then you’re spoilt for choice here. We recommend the Vanilla set (₹13,000) that perfectly showcases their less is more, approach and finer detailing. The top may be a plainer cotton satin but the gota on the wide-legged pants is beautiful. The dupatta is embroidered with golden lace and beaten mukaish work that makes it look like twinkling stars. *Cue* Badan pe sitaare lapete hue…
Photo credit: (L) Aashna Shroff and (R) Marigold Lane
Aashna Shroff showed us the multitasking capabilities of the pieces by Marigold Lane.
This raspberry pink floral anarkali comes in a set (₹2,998, currently on sale) with a dupatta and palazzo pants. Wear it as a set, drop the pants and dupatta and wear the top as a dress. Or open up the button on the anarkali, pair a crop top with the palazzo pants and wear the top as an overlay.
You can go for the full ethnic look or mix it up with other pieces from your closet for a unique flair.
Photo credit: (L) Rashmi Desai and (R) Shaakha
Rashami Desai is sporting a new kind of power suit to match her power pose. Lucky for us she tagged the creators of the look Shaakha.
Desai’s Safiya set (₹6,999) is lovely but we get that a lot of people aren’t comfortable wearing sleeveless tops (our own ‘fat arm’ obsession kicks in too). In which case, we recommend the Heena set (₹6,999) featuring an off-shoulder top and cropped pants along with a chanderi dupatta.
It’s the kind of colour and print combination that will look great on every skin tone and body type – their sizes range from XS to 5XL.
Photo credit: (L) Komal Pandey and (R) Drzya by Ridhiiee Suuri
Komal Pandey has given us many fashion gems. From all the ethnic wear brands, it is the flowery world of Drzya we want to get lost in. The Pariza set (₹9,600) is delicate and typically feminine, thanks to the combination of the floral print in chanderi silk and mul cotton, along with the scalloped edges of the organza dupatta.
Photo credit: (L) Rupali Hasija and (R) The Loom
We saw Malaika Arora wear it, then Ananya Pandey and popping up in our feed was Rupali Hasija AKA Curl Girl in this tie and dye cotton silk kurta (₹3,090, currently on sale).
And we get the hype. It looks super comfortable, easy, breezy and big while not making you look like you’re wearing a sack. We’re suckers for any tie-dye and this is elevated with the lace detailing and tassels down the front.
The Loom is another ethnic wear brand that has such diverse offerings in terms of style, colour, fabrics and occasions that if not this, there will be something else that catches your eye.
Photo credit: (L) Urmi Daga and (R) A.projeKt by Asmita Kala
The beauty of bandhani/bandhej doesn’t need to be limited to dupattas. We saw that in this pink Aiza co-ord set (₹8,000) by A.projeKt by Asmita Kala on Urmi Daga’s page where the top can work in three different ways. But it’s the blues of their Nadia set (₹9,000) that won our hearts.
Their pieces are perfect for someone more inclined toward western wear but looking to dip their toes in the world of ethnic wear brands. You could easily transition this co-ord set from day to night with a change in jewellery and perhaps swapping your sandals for some heels or snazzy juttis.
Photo credit: (L) Ankita Katuri and (R) Ibai
Even if we were given 30 minutes to raid Ankita Katuri’s closet and take whatever we like, it wouldn’t be enough time. She’s introduced us to several beautiful sari labels, jewellery makers and everyday ethnic wear brands.
Ibai allows you to indulge in traditional handloom, embroidery and prints while sticking to your modern style aesthetic. And this ikat overlay (₹7,500) is an excellent place to start.
Photo credit: (L) Rida Tharana and (R) Mulmul
If you’re in a monotone mood and embroidery everywhere is your jam, add Rida Tharana’s denim blue co-ord set (₹10,900) by Mulmul to your shopping cart (you can get it in orange too). Anything really from their collection. The embroidery work is just *chef’s kiss*
They do traditional kurtas, lehengas, and dupattas, but also dresses, jumpsuits, playsuits and kimono-style wraps. You get the pick of the litter, but we will give a gentle nudge towards this black and white co-ord (₹9,900). The white threadwork on black, the delicate lace and the slight flare to the sleeves and pant legs; all come together so elegantly.
Photo credit: (L) Larissa D'Sa and (R) Sajke
Larissa D’Sa introduced us to the prints of Sajke in this dress (₹1,299) and we fell down a rabbit hole.
Dresses, jackets, kurtas, dupattas, you name it. Sajke’s artisans use traditional textiles and weave them into every outfit your closet could need for everyday wear. There’s something about the Floret cotton sharara set (₹3,679, currently on sale) that seems like it could do both, go from comfortable casual wear for when you’re working from home and then be ready to step out to meet friends and family for lunch.
Photo credit: (L) Priya Malik and (R) Hasli
Hasli is one brand that we’ve seen every now and again on creators like Prajakta Kohli, Isha Borah, Diksha Rawat, Mamta Sharma Das and more, but we’re kicking ourselves now for having not paid more attention to them.
They have a kurta set for every occasion. Feel like you need a pick me up on a gloomy day? Go for this beigey-peach floral affair (₹3,800) worn by Priya Malik. Need to turn up the heat then you can try the bold red lehenga set instead. With every colour from the spectrum and forgiving tailoring, these are honestly comfortable to spend an entire day in without batting an eye. In their collection, you’ll find a set for every day of the week.