With the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi around the corner, khadi is back in the focus—but it is just the tip of the handloom conversation surrounding the massive Indian textile iceberg. The many layers to this conversation ranges from government policies to sustainable craft clusters, and to the marketability of textiles and craft in today’s rather precarious retail market. And one can’t help but wonder that in an environment where most brick-and-mortar fashion players are struggling—be it luxury giant Barney’s or the latest high street casualty, Forever 21, who have both filed for bankruptcy recently—is the physical fashion retail space headed towards a slow extinction, or is there a new formula waiting to be cracked? The so far understated and rather quiet Bengaluru-based The House of Angadi, which traces its genesis from a 600-year-long textile legacy, is confident with their answer, at least when it comes to Indian luxury. In a line, it rests on the soon-to-be-launched Angadi Heritage, a sprawling 18,000sqft space geared towards becoming India’s premier multi-designer destination for Indian textiles and handcrafted luxury.
“I inherited a legacy, I didn’t inherit a business,” says K Radharaman, the founder, CEO and design head of The House of Angadi. You might recall him as the designer behind the red and gold saris worn by Deepika Padukone at her headline- and hashtag-breaking wedding. Apart from the accidental celebrity endorsement, Radharaman is quite the unicorn in the Indian fashion market. He hails from a family that traces its roots back to the Padmasaliya weavers of Warangal, he graduated with an engineering degree from Cornell University and went on to work as a textile designer with leading international brands including Ralph Lauren to Louis Vuitton. He returned to India and founded The House of Angadi in 2001, launched the design label ADVAYA, even as he conceptualised and successfully created the first-ever linen blended Kanjeevaram or Khadi Kanjeevaram, which further cemented his reputation as one of the country’s leading textile designers. He is a weaver, textile designer, apparel designer, entrepreneur and legacy heir, all rolled into one.
And now he’s ready to claim his spotlight with the launch of his latest store, Angadi Heritage. But what makes this new multi-designer store a game-changer? “Handloom products are generally perceived as a commodity in India, unlike the West where handcrafted products are considered luxury. While this perception is slowly changing, our aim is to celebrate this legacy in a majestic space that showcases the finest products India has to offer, in a manner that befits their stature,” explains Radharaman.
While bringing heritage luxury into a contemporary lexicon, is the thread that runs through, to understand how it all comes together you need to break down Radharaman’s one-line mission statement. Let’s begin with the majestic space—the exterior faÁade and structure is created by architect Brinda Somaya, inspired by Bengaluru’s architectural landmark Vidhan Saudha. From repurposed heritage furniture to an ikat-inspired light installation by Klove Studio, the interiors are designed by Abha Narain Lambah, who seamlessly combines traditional accents with India’s textile aesthetic.
From the Chettinad-inspired courtyard that greets you as you walk into this palatial store to the open terrace that drinks in sprawling views of the city, this store is designed to make you feel at home even as you’re enveloped by a delicate grandeur. Talking about the terrace, it is currently home to an exhibit showcasing a tiny sampling of the exhaustive archive of Kanjeevarams and textiles preserved across generations of Radharaman’s family—from Kadhua in a Benarasi silk handwoven georgette to the world’s first-ever Khadi Kanjeevaram. Rumour has it that a private museum in Thanjavur, showcasing The House Of Angadi’s exhaustive textile archive, might be on the cards too.
Next comes the collection itself—the almost completely handcrafted collection here is curated from designers across India. “Leather accessories by Nappa Dori; personal care from Pure Earth; fragrances by The Perfume Library; apparel labels such as Anavila, Urvashi Kaur, 11.11, Injiri, Rimzim Dadu, Akaaro; menswear by Suket Dhir and Rajesh Pratap Singh; as well as children’s wear by Love The World Today share space with The House of Angadi’s own in-house ready to wear and sari labels.” From ready-to-wear to bridal saris, there’s an understated elegance to the collection found here, for customers who enjoy the subtleties of master craftsmanship, the purity of finely woven textiles and an evolved design aesthetic. The price points also deserve a mention—they are definitely more affordable than what you might find in most multi-designer stores in Delhi and Mumbai.
Add to that a deeply engaged staff, who can trace motifs back to heritage archives and the source of almost every fabric, and you’re gently coaxed into a contemporary Indian vision for slow luxury that openly embraces heritage and legacy. While we’re a long way away from knowing if Angadi Heritage will prove to be the answer to Indian luxury’s ailing retail woes, we’re definitely recommending a visit to Bengaluru’s latest luxury destination. Scroll ahead for a quick peek inside the new space.