#NICEStories: Indigharana – Throwing the spotlight on Indian art

Heritage forms of art in India are performed with care and patience. In this fast-paced world, we need to take a moment to slow down and cherish this culture of our land to see the perfection it really holds. Indigharana is a brand of Aakruti Arts, that strives to create such an awareness through its fusion line of accessories and home decor. Transforming regular fashion with one art form at a time, Indigharana wants to bring an Indian touch to every design they create. 

Started in the year 2020, Indigharana is a brand that aims to unify different art forms of the country through modern accessories and adornments. 

Indigharana – is a combination of “Indie” representing an alternative culture and “gharana” which represents a style of traditional art. Stemming from their aim to highlight Indian artforms with a contemporary twist, Indigharana is the brainchild of a family of artists who admire the endless craftsmanship originating from every nook and corner of the country. Madhav Raj Bhatt, the Founder and Creative Head of Indigharana has been raised with values that appreciate culture through classical dance and handlooms alike, which reflects beautifully in the line of products he creates for the brand. Mangala Bhatt, a strong aesthete, is the Partner and Promoter who ensures the art truly connects with people. Follow our conversation with Madhav as he explains how his family, education and travel played an important role in identifying the need to start Indigharana and its journey ahead.  

From Commerce to Craft – Home is where it began

I finished my Bachelor’s in Commerce at the Osmania University, Hyderabad – without the slightest idea that I would end up working in the fields of arts and crafts. However, hailing from a family full of artists and performers, I always enjoyed practicing the same. Traveling around the country gave me immense exposure of the dying art forms that exist in less-known parts of India. From 2010-2015, I volunteered and became a part of AIESEC India, a global not-for-profit initiative that allows young people to express their leadership skills while making a cultural and social impact. I led multiple teams for Business Development and Product Management, and participated in numerous initiatives that allowed me to explore the cultural crafts in their rawest form. Passionate about beginning an initiative and putting my educational and personal background to use, I decided to pursue the Creative and Cultural Businesses Program at IIM Ahmedabad in 2019.

During this time, I worked on projects that revolved around encouraging various forms of art and crafts that have been prevalent in India. This really piqued my interest because of the impact this could create both culturally and entrepreneurially. I then established a full-scale brand that now allows me to invigorate art through products of fashion and decor. 

Bringing in the Indian-ness – Through Ikat, Jamdani and more

Since my roots are in Telangana, Indigharana consists of a significant line of products that are designed in-house and hand-made with care by rural artisans. The end result is a perfect rendition of latest designs that intricately yet effortlessly blend in with age-old craftsmanship. Most products found on our website are made using the artform – Ikat – which is a fabric based handloom work that uses various blends of silk. 

Right from the start of this brand, I found it motivating to see Indigharana being held in high ground by our customers for our signature pocket squares made using the Ikat technique. Through neck ties and Indian Jackets made from raw silk Ikat, Kurtas made from cotton-blend Ikat and hand-spun scarves in Jamdani work, we cater to customers who appreciate this craftsmanship through clothing and accessories. We also use authentic Ikat fabric for decor products such as table runners, eye-wear cases, cushion covers and much more. 

With awareness comes appreciation – Why Indian craftsmanship stands out

Our aim is to Indianize regular products with a tinge of craftsmanship from every part of India. We are currently establishing connections with rural artisans from other states such as Rajasthan, Orissa and Gujarat to inculcate their heritage handicraft methods into our products. One of the major reasons why old artforms are worth creating awareness for is because of their sustainable and eco-friendly nature. Our line of shirts and scarves are all coloured using natural dyes with authentic fabric that allows us to create sustainable, accessible and fashionable products. We are currently operational on our website and hope to turn every customer into an Indian craftsmanship aficionado. 

Balancing the scales of tradition and fast-paced fashion

Being an artist in a family full of many more, supporting and understanding the endless hard work and patience of other artists comes very naturally. The acknowledgement of artisans who have kept the craft alive to this day is what makes me persevere at Indigharana. It is important to note the needs of present day customers while introducing an Indian touch in the products we make. Reimagining ethnic designs to suit the needs of an urbanized customer base has always been a challenging deal.  However, the product reception so far has been great, which heightens the impact we make in various aspects such as livelihood of the craftsmen, sustainability through thoughtful use of our resources and bringing an Indian touch to regular products. 

Collaboration with Initiatives bearing the same agenda

Any brand that is built on the ideal to revive cultural artforms, needs to unwaveringly go ahead with it. Cultural businesses need to be encouraged because they educate people on traditional methods that have lost relevance in today’s time. Businesses like ours narrate a bigger story that is independent from the profit generation of the brand. I constantly look forward towards developing connections in this sector, be it through not-for-profits or government initiatives, all carrying to fulfill the same motto of bringing traditional practices into light. As a volunteer of the Crafts Council of Telangana (CCT) as well as a member of the Global Shapers Community, I actively take part in spreading the word and creating meaningful initiatives that can help handicrafts of Telangana and more become a common entity in the industry. I am thrilled that Indigharana is now a part of the NICEorg community because of its constant commitment to voice out and host numerous cultural entrepreneurs like me who plan on establishing lost cultural artforms of India on a larger scale. 

As an entrepreneur and designer, it’s essential to understand various aspects about enterprise, leverage existing networks and also build on new ones. We can bring together people from all the NICE sectors and work on tapping into the potential of this field, which is what will make it impactful. I will act as an enabler to the heritage crafts of Telangana. We need to envision ways in which we can bring in the Indian-ness of our art forms on to newer avenues. With consumers looking for meaningful ways to discover and connect with Indian heritage, this is a great opportunity to boost the art, craft and culture ecosystem of Telangana.

NICEorg wishes Indigharana the best of luck in its journey ahead!

If your cultural enterprise is in any of our five focus sectors and you would be interested in being featured, write to us at NICEorg

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