California-based Shivam Punjya on how Behno is a ‘make in India’ label with heart
With the production house in Gujarat, and design and sampling of fabrics taking place in New York and Paris, Shivam Punjya’s hot new label, Behno, aims to develop a contemporary global wardrobe. By reinventing traditional menswear for women’s fashion, their first collection out this February offered a modern, minimal style with fabrics primarily sourced from Italy, Japan and China fashioned into knit Jacquard, sweaters and boxy coats. The fall/winter 2015 was inspired by the Swiss-French designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of modern architecture,Le Corbusier, and his interpretation of Chandigarh.
Though Behno started off by working with luxe fabrics ranging from Italian Merino wool and cashmere to silk organza and cotton in angular silhouettes, the new collection (expected to be out next month) dabbles with a local theme. “On my first visit to India, I came across khadi and fell in love with it. I had heard about the fabric, but never seen or felt it, nor had I learnt its history. I began to learn more about it and the background of its weavers by travelling to rural villages in Gujarat,” says Punjya, CEO and founder of the label. “Our new collection will be 100 per cent khadi, with the combination of both western design and Indian material,” says the California-based entreprenuer, adding that they will be taking inspiration from Bauhaus, the art school in Germany, for their next (Spring 2016) collection.
Started in 2013, the label’s goal is also to address the rights, health and wellness of the garment workers. When Punjya came down to India the same year, for his thesis research in Jaipur and Hyderabad (as part of his masters programme in Duke University) he was deeply impacted by the collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory building in Bangladesh that claimed the lives of many workers. “I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that the lives of thousands of garment workers are put at stake to just put clothes on our backs,” he explains. For the economics graduate, shifting focus to fashion was not easy, and he credits the brand’s unique fashion sense to his creative director Jasonpaul McCarthy and in-house designers Ashley Austin and Ethan Hon.
The fall/winter collection will be available from August, at Indie Lust. It will soon be available in e-commerce stores and behno.com too. From Rs 15,860. Details: behno.com
Mayuri J Ravi