When textile designer Sanjay Garg was introduced last year to the heritage bungalow which multi-designer boutique Cinnamon now occupies at Ulsoor, he fell in love with it. “I was mad about the building, the architecture and the experience,” says Garg, who is best known for his ethereal Chanderi saris, made under the label Raw Mango. “I always wanted a different kind of space to retail my saris. In Delhi, my studio space is located in a farmhouse. This is because I want to give my clients an experience while they buy my designs. When I saw Cinnamon, I knew I had to open a store here,” he tells us. Launching this week, it will be Garg’s first foray into exclusive stores, outside his Chattarpur studio: Angoori Bari in Delhi. And though the space at Cinnamon is smaller than the studio, Garg says that the place is the perfect combination of culture and contemporary, a sentiment he echoes about the people of Bangalore.
Business as usual
Unlike other glitzy designer stores, Garg has a completely different plan up his sleeve as far as the experience of buying is concerned. The store will have no saris displayed outside. Everything is tucked away, out of sight in almirahs and the space is done up in a minimalist fashion. “Except a huge mirror, you will not find any display. The idea is not to showcase, not to dangle a lollipop. There will be no show. No explanation. No window display. No pictures on the wall and no mannequins even. The customer will come only to buy, because a Raw Mango client knows exactly what she wants,” he says.
Garg’s latest collection: Sooti, a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Jamdani cotton saris, will be available at the store along with his other classics. Known for his saris with bright colours, dainty booti work and zari borders, Sooti is more understated with plenty of greys and creams, but Garg’s favourite hue rani or a dark pink, does make an appearance.You will also have access to his beautifully tailored blouses. Not your traditional blouses, but high-necked, loose fitting versions, with zips in the front instead of buttons, made out of cotton, mashru, tissue, chintz, with features such as stripes, weaves such as ikat and even quilted details. “These blouses can be worn with saris or opened up as a jacket or even wear it as a crop top,” says Garg, adding, “a blouse doesn’t necessarily have to show skin and my versions are fully covered giving the wearer, the freedom to wear their saris any way they want.”
Unlike other designers who have been quick to jump on the online bandwagon, Raw Mango saris are not even available easily except the limited collection at Good Earth or the odd exhibition. While we have occasionally spotted capsule collections on e-stores such as Jaypore.com, they have sold out faster than we could click ‘Add to cart’. Which makes us wonder about the kind of business model Garg’s been following. “When I started out, I wanted Raw Mango to be recognised as a brand that is essentially Indian and I first decided to sell my saris to the hardcore clientele, those who wear saris everyday. From Cochin to Lucknow, I contacted the Crafts Council of India to hold exhibitions and reach out to people.” And he wanted to do so in a sustainable manner. While he says that he has followed a pattern of sorts, everything fell into place organically. And before celebrities and filmstars went crazy over his saris, it was a brigade of academicians, politicians and women from all walks of life who were embracing them. Keeping it real is his mantra for all his look books and photo shoots till date, where he shoots with real life subjects, and not professional models, women who often wear his saris in their daily lives.
Rs.4,500 upwards. Raw Mango launches
on July 7, 6pm. At Ulsoor.
— Amrita Bose