Stock up on North-Eastern weaves and textiles at Heeya’s new offline store
Jonali Saikia Khasnabish’s collection of saris, dupattas, stoles and sarongs were always the talking point among her MNC colleagues, mostly because she wore weaves sourced from the North-East, which are quite a novelty in the city. “I am from Assam and wear a lot of weaves from the region. And since they weren’t easily available here, my colleagues would often ask where I’d got my clothes from,” says Khasnabish.
So in 2012, after a lot of market research, Khasnabish decided to launch a brand called Heeya, to showcase the underexposed textile richness from the North East. Many exhibitions and three-and- half years of online retailing later, she formally launched her store in August. The 200 sq-feet space has been done up with bamboo and teakwood panels. Apart from a few wooden benches and stools, the minimal décor allows the focus to be on the vibrant merchandise.
From saris, blouse pieces, salwar suits, scarves, shrugs and stoles, the outfits and accessories, are mostly made from cotton, Eri silk, mulberry silk and muga ghicha. “Heeya Gero is the premium collection of saris (`13,500 upwards), made by the Mishing women (from upper Assam),” she explains, adding that they take at least a month to weave these saris. “The reason it takes so long, and perhaps is more expensive, is because every motif is done by hand and involves the rare craft of infusing many colours,” Khasnabish tell us.
Then there are the Eri silks — saris in contemporary designs created by women from lower Assam. They are lighter than the regular silk saris, offer an elegant sheen, absorb moisture, and drape beautifully. Other lightweight varieties include muga ghicha and dupion silk, woven along the Arunachal-Assam border. If, like Khasnabish, you enjoy wearing the whole nine yards to work, then pretty colour-blocked ones with signature Assamese tassels are also available. Otherwise, stock up on mulberry silks for festivals, sourced from the silk capital of the North-East, Sualkuchi.
Speaking of what is popular in store, Khasnabish points to the mekhela sador. “It is a two-piece ensemble and is a variation of the sari. They come in cotton and silk and have beautiful patterns woven on them. The sarongs made by the Mizo, Naga and Bodo tribes are also popular,” she adds.
Not once along our conversation does Khasnabish forget to mention the names of tribes or weavers behind her collection. “I aim to not only bring the textiles of North East to urban markets, but also highlight our tradition. Weaving is a tradition in the North East. Every household has a loom. Even the Queen in the past used to weave her own clothes,” she signs off.
`500 upwards. At Lakeview Farm, Whitefield.
— Barkha Kumari
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