To mark 30 years of their brand, David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore are offering a brand new version of Abraham & Thakore.
Working around the theme of “the past, the present and the future,” the designers will present their new avatar at the ongoing FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. They are juxtaposing seasons in this outing, combining autumn-winter 2022 with spring-summer 2023, with a sprinkling of key iconic pieces from their archival collections to demonstrate their continuing relevance.
What's more, this season they are launching a wider menswear collection with jackets, shirts, kurtas and trousers, all designed with a softer construction to reflect today’s more casual and relaxed attitude of the shopper. Think organic cotton and gabardine, along with handblock as well as digital printing.
In an interview with Lounge, the designers talk about their journey, the forthcoming collection at the Mumbai show and future plans. Edited excerpts:
How has the brand evolved over the years?
Our 30 years have seen an evolving ecosystem outside of us, that we have often felt the need to respond to. As human identities regarding gender, race, and sexuality change, our collections have played with the idea of androgyny and gender fluidity.
What has remained the same is our black and white design language. Through it all, we feel that it is the purest and cleanest way to communicate. It is almost clinical and unemotional to us and, therefore, we like the objectivity with which we look at black and white. This design DNA has stood the test of time.
Have you felt the need to update your brand narrative season after season?
To remain relevant, we believe that design must respond to the times we are living in. As designers, we observe closely and listen with intent, while trying to remain open to the changing needs of the consumer.
Indigenous textiles have always been the beating heart of Abraham & Thakore. Was it a challenge initially to put handlooms on the map considering there was a time when handloom pieces were considered frumpy?
We have never really been concerned whether something is considered trendy or frumpy and have always been fascinated with the magic of handloom textiles. The challenge has always been to find a contemporary design vocabulary while working with traditional textile techniques. However, the sheer diversity of Indian textile techniques has always allowed us to find new solutions.
What are some of your favourite textiles and weaving techniques that you love to experiment with?
We love to work with all weaves. However, truth be told, ikat has a special place in our hearts.
A&T shows are always synonymous with quiet elegance, masterful display of crafts and a touch of glam goth. Who is the A&T woman?
The A&T woman is confident and independent with an individualistic style of dressing. Style for her is more important than fashion.
What is your design process like?
We are inspired by art, cinema, music....by people on the street. A collection can sometimes be triggered by a collection of tribal textiles that we have seen and loved, or it could even be a moment in history that provokes a response.
Over a course of three decades, did you ever feel the brand was stagnating?
To be honest, we believe the activity of design provides an ever-evolving challenge. We have always enjoyed developing collection after collection.
You have made a transition into decor, which was a natural step for the brand. What was it like to apply the process of fashion design on to decor pieces?
We initially launched our label in London with a home collection for The Conran Shop, Liberty and Harrod's. We are relaunching this collection with the opening of our new stores in Mumbai. The collection draws on modern, graphic patterns for the home with an emphasis on texture. Tableware is a new addition.
Please share the story of the houndstooth sari in double ‘ikat’ silk. When you look back at this seminal piece, how do you feel?
The houndstooth saree was an important look in a collection that was inspired by menswear tropes, both Western and Eastern. We reimagined classic European men’s suiting patterns such as the houndstooth and tweed and transposed them into Indian handloom techniques for womenswear. This is how the houndstooth pattern was reinterpreted as a sari in a silk double ikat weave. We are thrilled that this sari is now in the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.