For a stitch in time
For embroidery of your choice and limitless fabric options, Chowk is the place to head to
Photo: sampath kumar g.p.
COLOURS OF OUR CULTURE The pre-tailored fabric and sari lines at Chowk are sourced from textile-rich cities across India
With a name like Chowk, one expects a bustling marketplace filled with colour, activity and the cries of vendors. One would, however, be rather off target with this recently-launched Domlur store. It turns out to be a much more upmarket destination, as conceptualised by designers Vikramaditya and Padmini.
Over the past 14 years, the couple have engaged in embroidery as a marketable product, allied with customised tailoring. Originally launching their services in Mumbai in 1990, they shifted to Bangalore three years later and built up a select, loyal clientele.
The pre-tailored fabric and sari lines are sourced from the interiors of textile-rich cities such as Jaipur, Kolkata, Benares and Delhi, while muted threadwork-embellished footwear comes from Patiala.
They hope to offer a value-added experience to buyers by offering unstitched, vivid-hued, screen-printed salwar suit lengths by Satya Paul that are not available even at his signature stores. Delhi-based Nalini's designer suit lengths in crepe, georgette and chiffon, with bold geometric motifs overprinted with khari work in unusual colours, are also available.
These, however, are the only two outside designer labels stocked by Chowk within its basement plus three floors, where embroiderers and tailors are at hand to provide personalised attention to each customer.
"We've tried to keep our mark-ups marginal," says Vikramaditya, holding up an uncut crepe ensemble length priced at Rs. 1,600. "And our kurta pieces are available for just Rs. 800." This overview makes sense as one chances upon a range of white-on-white Lucknowi kurtis with breathtaking chikankari all over, reasonably priced when compared to city centre sales.
That's Padmini's cue to share phulkari embroidered salwar lengths, an elusive product in Bangalore. One cannot help exclaiming over a particularly fine olive and lemon yellow piece, brilliant to the eye and silky to the touch.
"This is our first venture into retailing. Our clients choose what they'd like us to do with the fabric," explains Padmini of their often export-oriented, hand-crafted approach. "We could turn a dupatta into a kurti, if they like. Or finish a suit length with embroidery of their choice."
These choices could set Chowk apart. Such as knobbly-textured woven lengths in a noile-tussar mix, woven in Benares, discretely block-printed either there or in Kolkata. Or an unusual Pashmina silk, from Benares again.
The embroidery choices in their ground floor sari section add value to their space. One can luxuriate on scintillating trellised Parsi gara embroidery in earth shades on a black chiffon sari, orgota, zardosi, ari or badla designs on crepe or georgette lengths, mainly rendered by their 125-odd embroiderers at Lucknow or Kolkata.
"If we had to do it in Bangalore, it would double the cost of a Rs. 6,450 salwar piece," explains Vikramaditya, "because we'd have to pay for the living expenses, food and transport of the karigars." Then, he holds up a magnificent Jaipur-embroidered dabka patola length in pale gold on muted orange, a technique they have developed.
While cottons are in short supply at this store, their range is likely to find buyers among Bangalore's Page 3 crowd. Some would be enticed by the tangail and Dhakai designs on tussar and crepe fabric or delicate single threadwork against frothy backdrops.
"I have to admit we are what we are today because of our karigars," confesses Padmini, as she shares their Middle East-bound embroidered fabric range and bags marketed through a U.K. label.
About why the rather conventionally-styled store is called Chowk, Padmini says: "When we travel through rural India, looking for fabric, we're always told: "Yeh to chowk mein jaake milega," she adds. Undoubtedly a defined rural infusion within an urban context here.
So if you need to jazz up your outfits with a kiss of embroidery, head for 34 Service Road, Domlur Layout. Phone: 25358641/ 51156841.
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