David Abraham and Rajesh Thakore, a renowned name in the realm of modern design, hold forth on how they nourished and grew the brand, their defining collections, changing and yet staying constant.
By Nichola Marie
Fashion Established in 1992, Abraham & Thakore has grown into one of India’s most successful and respected design resources for fashion and accessories. What were some of the factors that enabled this fruitful journey? For 30 years, at Abraham & Thakore, we have had a novel approach to contemporary design, textures, and lessis- more philosophy. Our affordable luxury wear is rooted in a fabric-first approach where homegrown, heirloom-worthy textiles are reimagined into everyday wear for modern-day Indians. We are firmly in the business of designing for all the days you’re not getting married!
“Abraham & Thakore was established from a space of conscious living at a time nobody spoke about it.”
In a consumer world of mass-produced fast fashion, Abraham & Thakore reiterates the belief that real luxury lies in specially crafted product in limited numbers of high quality. How challenging was it to nourish and grow the brand?
Abraham & Thakore was established from a space of conscious living at a time nobody spoke about it. We carefully crafted our collection that gave away that sense of luxury. When we started, it was a design brand by Indians for business overseas back in 1992, which lead to difficulty in building our brand visibility. However, later that also became our identity. We are strongly connected to our Indian roots. We, along with our weavers and karigars, have always taken on the challenge to reinvent the wheel both in our designs and our fabrics. At Abraham & Thakore we believed in ‘Quiet Luxury’ when ‘Quiet Luxury’ was not trending.
What is the hallmark of Abraham & Thakore and which do you see as some of your defining collections?
Some of our pieces that have been really close to us would be: –
The double ikat silk houndstooth sari and shirt from our AW 11-12 collection. The sari is a part of the permanent archives at the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
– The second most defining collection would be our ‘Wild Silk’ collection which was inspired by empowered women and the wild silk of the northeast. Muga, Tussar and Eri are fabrics woven from wild silk, which was used to create the line.
– We decided to pick India’s oldest technique of recycling — kantha or sujani as it is called in West Bengal. Waste fabric, bits of discarded x-rays and film were meticulously handpatched to create garments for our Autumn- Winter ‘15 collection.
“We are firmly in the business of designing for all the days you’re not getting married!”
“Our affordable luxury wear is rooted in a fabric-first approach where homegrown, heirloom-worthy textiles are reimagined into everyday wear for modern-day Indians.”
“Our ‘fabricfirst’ philosophy simultaneously celebrates yet provokes Indian heirloom textiles crafts.”
Which are some of the trends and tastes that Abraham & Thakore cultivated over the years?
Our fabrics are printed with a variety of techniques like hand-screen block printing, and aari embroidery, to name a few. Double ikat, block printing, and hand-spun and hand-woven techniques such as jamdani from Bengal, and brocades from Varanasi are combined with prints and embroidery along with tussar silk, lending to muted and rich textures.
Some of our modern twists on traditional saris have also been accepted and appreciated. Like our sari styled with a belt, ankle-length saris with shoes inspired by the traditional Indian mojris and ties with kurtas.
Our signature black and white collection is a part of each of our drops.
What key changes has the brand adapted over the years to stay relevant and current?
When the world was going through a pandemic, a lot of norms changed. Shopping from brick and mortar moved to shopping online. We’ve understood the importance of having an online presence in today’s day and age where the world only gets smaller and smaller.
“Our design aesthetic is deeply entrenched in the yin-yang tenets of marrying polarities to create harmony.”
“We are strongly connected to our Indian roots. We, along with our weavers and karigars, have always taken on the challenge to reinvent the wheel both in our designs and our fabrics.”
At A&T, we have reintroduced our Home Collection. We believe in providing a lifestyle which is an extension of our design style. Home furnishings and textiles also form a part of the Abraham & Thakore repertoire, featuring home accessories such as cushion covers, and bed covers along with loungewear such as home kaftans and accessories like scarves, eye masks, handbags and footwear – employing traditional Indian surface ornamentation and handloom textile craft, and re-imagining these with its signature minimalist design sensibility to create textures that celebrate hand-making skills.
From starting out as fresh graduates of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, what areas have each of you changed in and what remains constant over the years?
Our constant is our belief in what we do and how we do it. Our ‘fabric-first’ philosophy simultaneously celebrates yet provokes Indian heirloom textiles crafts. We create refreshingly unique lifestyle products for the urban Indian. Our design aesthetic is deeply entrenched in the yin-yang tenets of marrying polarities to create harmony.
A&T: Fast Facts
• Abraham & Thakore was established in 1992 by David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore, graduates of the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, who were later joined by Kevin Nigli, a design graduate of NIFT, New Delhi.
• The brand was initially launched with a handmade collection of scarves and kimonos, in exclusive stores in London and in Europe, as stores like The Conran Shop, Browns, Liberty, Selfridges and Harrods in London; and Le Bon Marche in Paris.
• The work of Abraham & Thakore has been exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts in New Delhi and in the Volkart Foundation-sponsored exhibition on Khadi.
• Abraham & Thakore designs and manufactures uniforms and special textile accessories for premium institutional clients – Vistara Airlines, Vana, The Oberoi, Taj Group, The Park.
• A&T have also collaborated with Obeetee carpets and FCML.