Designer Sanjay Garg of the label Raw Mango has just launched a store in Hyderabad. His aim is to make Benarasi saris, an offering the brand is well known for, available to a Kanjeevaram sari-loving audience.
“They are least influenced by trends. And because Kanjeeevaram saris have always been a part of their life, they appreciate and admire the culture of wearing handwoven saris. Aesthetic-wise, Raw Mango is more acceptable here,” says Garg.
He says that Raw Mango's Chennai and Bengaluru stores' sales are more sari-heavy, while Hyderabad loves lehngas and shararas as much as Mumbai and Delhi.
The Hyderabad store, like the rest of the outlets in the country, has the latest summer collection Peacock Country. It also houses sculptures that have caught Garg’s attention during his travels across the world, India-inspired custom furniture and décor pieces.
The biggest takeaway, says Garg, from his travels to Europe is how brands and stores abroad focus on narration and have a strong individual identity, unlike most fashion stores in India which look almost alike.
“We don’t see the value of design in India. Each store tells a story; there is so much individuality. If a Swedish brand like Acne Studio makes a bench, it is displayed inside museums. I don’t get to see that storytelling in India, except for a couple of designers,” says Garg, who has as many as 55 custom objects in his store including a sugar pot with a body of a swan and the face of a horse.
Besides collecting artifacts for his stores, Garg has been working on ad films for his brand. He says he loves the fact that fashion allows him to experiment with media. “When you walk into the store, people should see a clarity in vision (of the designer), and connect with an aesthetic they like,” he says.
Garg, who studied design at Delhi's National Institute of Fashion Technology, adds, “We have a lot of oral history and we can relate and create around mythology as they are interwoven. Our clothes and their silhouettes are connected to history to inspire us in many ways. There is so much to share (and one medium is not enough)."
He will also be taking his love for storytelling to London later this month, where he will be speaking at The Offbeat Sari exhibition at the Design Museum. The exhibition, which celebrates contemporary forms of classic Indian drapes, includes one of his creations as part of the showcase.