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Independent India is 75 years old. Old enough to have accomplished a lot, and young enough to be energized by new possibilities every day. We capture different aspects of the old and the new in listicles of 75 fun, inspiring, surprising and meaningful facts in this special Independence Day Series.

75 luxury brands that changed the way we live and indulge

75 luxury brands that changed the way we live and indulge
Deepali Nandwani
Deepali Nandwani

Indian luxury brands that have become household names, and what they have to offer.

Sabyasachi Mukherjee: Sabyasachi is the country’s first big-ticket ‘Made in India’ fashion brand that we exported internationally — jewellery at Bergdorf Goodman, celebrity clients who wear Sabyasachi head-to-toe, limited-edition deals with high street brands such as H&M, and sarees that are reminiscent of a lost Bengali zamindar aesthetics. He is set to open his first international store, a 5000sqft space in Manhattan’s Christopher Street by the year-end.
Tarun Tahiliani: Tahiliani has realised that the space for merely a design label is limited if you want your business to thrive for generations. Tahiliani dabbles in interior and luxury real estate business with his son; he, along with his sister Tina, has pioneered fashion retail with their sea-fronted store, Ensemble; and his royalty-like garments and India Modern aesthetics have made him a darling of the elite. A Tahiliani bride is as much a statement as a Sabyasachi one.
Rahul Mishra: Designer Rahul Mishra’s reversible dresses cut out of Kerala’s Mundu cloth, and ornate Banarasi fabric, put him on the Indian fashion map at his debut show in 2006 Lakme Fashion Week. Since then, his artisanal fashion brand has gone international, selling everywhere – from Australia to Europe. Last month he presented his 20th collection in Paris, a market for which he reworks his lehengas into evening gowns and jackets, their 12 kalis or panels intact.
Dress designed by Rahul Mishra
Amit Agarwal: The designer’s use of modern materials – recycled polymer and industrial metallic yarn, setting new standards for sustainable fashion has helped transform Indian fashion’s visual narrative. Agarwal’s collection is equally fluid: Modern kimonos styled with kurtas and turtleneck tees in place of tailored jackets.
Anavila: Linen sarees, anyone? Anavila Misra ensured that the urban elite Indian woman begins to look at a saree as an everyday garment that can be worn everywhere – to a theatre, a restaurant, at work, rather than treat it as occasion wear. She hewed a path of her own by launching the world’s first linen sarees, at a time when artisans were neither weaving nor embroidering one. Since then, she has blended linen with cotton and khadi to make it a truly versatile garment.
House of Angadi: Among the few significant brands to have emerged out of Bengaluru, Angadi, and its Indo-Western wear label ADVAYA, offer contemporary renditions of traditional textiles and dyeing techniques such as Ikat and weaves on India’s living unstitched garment heritage. Generations of saree-wearing women have gone to Angadi for their saree fix – from Indira Gandhi to Nargis Dutt and most of the south film actors today.
AMPM: Helmed by Ankur and Priyanka Modi, the brand’s core lies in the use of luxurious fabrics and a sense of detailing, eschewing all the tropes of Indian fashion like embroideries and embellishments.
AMPM uses luxurious fabrics, but eschews embroidery and embellishments.
Ekaya Banaras: Palak Shah, the fourth generation nurturing a Banarasi saree weaving business, launched Ekaya Banaras as a contemporary brand 10 years ago, taking the ancient, woven textile out of the narrow gullies of the world’s oldest cities, and beyond bridal trousseaus, into contemporary wardrobes. The brand has collaborated with designers, launched collections with traditional weaving techniques and modern motifs, and established retail stores in high-end luxury markets.
Bounipun: The young, sassy brand won the regional finals of the International Woolmark Prize in 2016 for its menswear. For Zubair Kirmani and his wife Renni, it was an act of courage to set up a modern fashion brand in the violence-ridden landscape of Kashmir. Bounipun’s garments incorporate Kashmir’s weaving and embroidery techniques – the dexterous use of flaming orange and red of the chinar on black garments; textiles such as tweed and pashmina; techniques such as tilla embroidery; or patterns inspired by Khatamband, an architectural form found on the ceilings of traditional Kashmiri houses.
Kashmir looms: Another gem from the Valley is this legacy brand founded by British textile historian Jenny Housego and Kashmiri Asaf Ali, who infused new life into an age-old craft of Pashmina weaving. Pashmina for the shawls the artisans weave come from a species of Himalayan goat that lives in the high-altitude regions of Ladakh and Tibet.
Janavi India: Jyotika Jhalani began the label from her son’s room in her Delhi home in 1998, and all they did was embroider cashmere shawls for European luxury houses. From there, she has taken the brand to the global spotlight with her cashmere collectables which retail at 500 shopping meccas such as Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and Lane Crawford.
Janavi India cashmeres retail at stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and Lane Crawford.
SUKETDHIR: Playful, masterfully detailed, and Indo-centric aesthetic — there is no other way to define the brand, SUKETDHIR. The silhouettes are minimal and contemporary — think silk damask and Banarasi fabric bombers, Muga silk kurtas and dresses for women and kurtas for men. Their unusual roster of clients includes filmmaker Mira Nair and economist and Nobel Prize winner Dr Abhijit Banerjee. Over time, the young brand has begun taking up all kinds of work – from interiors to shoes, wall art and accessories.
Antar Agni by Ujwal Dubey: Ujwal Dubey has dressed Ranbir Kapoor, Vicky Kaushal, and other Bollywood celebrities in his distinctive menswear: unstructured, gender-fluid drapes, asymmetrical cuts, and layering. His androgynous collection features linen, zari and lycra blends.
Ethicus Saree: The brand from Tamil Nadu is India’s first farm-to-fashion label. They grow their cotton, and each Ethicus saree comes with a tag that displays the weaver’s name, photograph, age, and the time it took them to weave the saree. Ethicus sarees are hand-block printed, hand-screen printing, hand-painted and hand-embroidered. Their most outlier experimentation was weaving a Madras Cotton saree in pastel shades such as powder pink, slate grey and rose finch.
Varana Fashion: Varana has spread far from its roots in Bengaluru to Mayfair in London and then to Milan. Its pared-down aesthetics, great quality fabrics and handwork have won it a place in celebrated boutiques such as Blu (Capri), Sam Tessabit (Como) and Popp & Kretschmer (Vienna). The brand, co-founded by Sujata Keshavan and Ravi Prasad, melds indigenous handwork with impeccable tailoring.
Les Ateliers 2M: Textile designer and craft preservationist Maximiliano Modesti has put Indian craftsman at the core of his embroidery and textile development company that works with some of the biggest European labels such as Isabel Marant, Chloé, Hermès, Dior, Balmain, YSL, and Bibhu Mohapatra to embroider and embellish their fashion products — from bags to garments — leveraging India’s heritage of craftsmanship.
Forest Essentials: Forest Essentials was born out of founder Mira Kulkarni’s necessity to support her family as a single mother and is now a multi-billion-dollar luxury Ayurveda business, in which global beauty behemoth Estee Lauder has a stake. The brand straddles luxury hotel amenities and spa business, catering to over 500 hospitality chains, retails from 100 exclusive stores in 29 cities and exports to 120 countries.
Forest Essentials was founded by Mira Kulkarni, a single mom, to support her family.
Kama Ayurveda: From nine products in 2002, developed in partnership with the 75-year-old Arya Vaidya Pharmacy in Coimbatore, to full stack beauty brand with tie-ups with spas and hotels, Kama Ayurveda has stayed true to its roots. The brand works alongside very old classical Ayurvedic pharmacies to ensure product authenticity. It has stores in 23 cities in India.
Vedix: A more recent name in the luxury Ayurveda beauty and wellness segment, Vedix marries traditional Ayurveda with customisation. Filling a questionnaire on the new-age brand’s website allows the Ayurveda experts working with it to create a perfect package of skin and hair care products depending on your dosha, a service I vouch by. The brand exports to countries such as the US, UK, Australia, and Canada.
RAS Luxury Oils: The Raipur brand, which jumped into our consciousness about a year or so ago due to its aggressive social media blitz, recently raised $2 million from Sixth Sense Ventures. The oils, masks, lip care products and serums are infused with organic essential oils and cold-pressed virgin oils.
RAS Luxury Oils recently raised $2 million from Sixth Sense Ventures.
Viren Bhagat Jewellery: The Indian artist-jeweller may not be known beyond the secretive club of jewellery connoisseurs, collectors, and the richest people of India. Globally, however, Bhagat is a superstar. He creates bespoke fine jewels for the richest, and scouts for rare gemstones across the world. His jewels rarely come up for auction, and when they do, they fetch high prices. In 2019 at a Christie’s New York auction, three of his pieces fetched a fortune, the highest price of $ 1,695,000 (Rs 11.6 crore) was for a five-strand natural pearl and diamond necklace.
Gem Palace: For most affluent travellers, Gem Palace is a must-visit in Jaipur, just as it is for the discerning rich. Gem Palace, which pioneered Meenakari enamelling, is run by the descendants of the Kasliwal family, once court jewellers to the Jaipur royal family. The family scion Siddharth Kasliwal has carefully nurtured the brand by making it a toast of aesthetes internationally.
Jaipur Jewels: The 150-year-old legacy jewellery house largely crafted jewels for the royalty (from the Nawab of Bhavalpur to the Jaipur maharajas), before creating a flourishing empire that sells avant-garde pieces marked by Rajasthan’s impeccable craftsmanship. Now headquartered in Mumbai, Jaipur Jewels is considered a wedding jewellery specialist.
En Inde: Co-founded by Anupama Sukh Lalvani and Sonal Sood, En Inde has broken all rules defining fine jewellery by using materials such as organic jute, gold and multi-coloured thread, wooden beads, and semi-precious stones, juxtaposed with a minimal brand with almost tribal jewellery sensibilities. The Talismanic urban armour-esque jewels balance fragility, strength, and resilience.
Titan Watches: In 1998, Titan launched Nebula — an exquisite timepiece crafted from 18kt and 22kt yellow gold, some studded with precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds, and rubies in a unique blend of the country’s jewellery traditions with state-of-art movement. Titan is also credited with the launch of the world’s slimmest ceramic watch – Titan Edge has a thickness of 4.4mm, accentuating the intricacies of the ceramic material.
Titan Nebula timepieces are crafted from 18kt and 22kt yellow gold, and studded with precious stones such as diamonds, emeralds, and rubies.
Jaipur Watch Company: Gaurav Mehta sourced the coins from old mints, auctions, and collections, and studded them onto the dials to create one of India’s first bespoke watch brands. Over the years, Mehta has crafted bespoke watches for clients and mined India’s rich art heritage in the form of the Pichwai, the Filigree Watch, or the more recent Baath collection with a one-rupee coin from 1947, the last coin minted during British rule, stamped with a tiger on the watch dial.
The Oberoi Hotels: Patriarch PRS Oberoi’s unapologetic love for the good life led him to create an Indian hospitality group that has huge admirers at home and on foreign shores, and guests who keep coming back for more. While most of The Oberoi Hotels properties are world-class in terms of luxury, it is the Vilas properties that stand out because of their understated luxury. They were inspired by the luxury embodied in Indian palaces, and his stays in iconic world hotels, where classic luxury melded seamlessly with modern amenities.
The Postcard Hotels: Kapil Chopra quit as President of The Oberoi Hotels to launch The Postcard Hotels, a boutique brand that runs small boutique properties in some of the most untouched parts of India. The hotels are an elegant world in themselves — picturesque locations, round-the-clock check-ins, no sugary welcome drinks, breakfast all day, and food evocative of the aromas of the destination.
Taj Palace Hotels: There is nothing as elegant as Taj Umaid Bhawan, atmospheric as Taj Falaknuma Palace, redolent with luxury as Taj Rambagh Palace, whose grounds are home to peacocks, or iconic as Taj Palace Mumbai, the first hotel to ever set up in response to the British ban on Indians entering hotels in pre-independence India. The service at palace hotels is impeccable, the views — of Hyderabad twinkling in the evening from Falaknuma Palace, stormy waves off the Gateway of India from Taj Palace, Mumbai, or of the Mehrangarh Fort – are unbeatable.
Taj Falaknuma Palace
CGH Earth: Gliding across the quiet backwaters in a private boat, guests are ushered into Chittoor Kottaram, a 200-year-old restored palace of the late Raja Rama Varma, the king of Cochin. Jose Dominic, Managing Director, CGH Earth, the hotel and travel company that in 2012 leased this single key property from the raja’s descendants, says, it is a traveller’s opportunity to be king and queen for two days. All CGH Earth’s properties offer differential experiments as these. Dominic stormed Southern hospitality with his hugely successful clean, green, healthy brand of hotels, establishing gems such as Coconut Lagoon in Kumarakom and Brunton Boatyard in Kochi.
RAAS Boutique Hotels: Nikhilendra Singh, the founder of RAAS, has taken some of Rajasthan’s most beautiful historical properties imbued with history and infused in them a modern approach to hoteliering. Evocative design marks RAAS properties. RAAS Jodhpur, for instance, is a luxury hotel with three semi-historic structures on it and a spectacular view of the imposing Mehrangarh Fort. Stunning hand-cut moveable stone screens on the windows are made from the same red stone as the fort.
The Tree of Life: The experiential hotel brand has 14 properties across largely the north of India, including an Agra hotel within shipping containers. Himmat Anand established the first hotel in Jaipur, which many labelled as “set for failure”. Since then, he, and now his son, Akhil Anand, has finely honed the concept of intimate hotels in serene setups, close to and yet away from cities.
SaffronStays: SaffronStays is a seven-year-old business with 275+ homes on its platform and footprint across Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand. Devendra Parulekar and Tejas Parulekar founded it as a pureplay management company that manages and monetises a homeowner’s property, much like how hotel brands do, just that these properties are one-off luxury villa properties which owners rent out to holidaymakers.
The living room at SaffronStays Kairos Athena, Karjat.
Paul John Single Malt Whisky: In April this year, Paul John, who set up Goa-based John Distilleries in 1992, was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the World Whisky Awards 2022, a rare honour for a man whose eponymous single malt brand has won several awards. Paul John Mithuna was also named the world’s third finest in Jim Murry’s influential Whisky Bible 2021. A lot of credit for the world-class brand also goes to its Master Distiller, the reclusive Michael John.
Paul John Mars Orbiter
Grovers Zampa Wines: One of the first wineries to be set up in India by the Grover family is known to produce some of the country’s finest wines. It exports to several countries, from Japan to Australia. With an impressive wine bar nestling among the Nandi Hills greens and La Reserve brand of oak matured Shiraz reds and Cabernet Sauvignon, Grover Zampa is one of the loftiest brands to come out of India.
Rampur Whisky: The Rampur Distillery in Uttar Pradesh began in 1943 by making IMFL. Rampur released its first single malt in 2016, and there has been no looking back. One of their offerings, Rampur Asava, is finished in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels; specifically Indian Cabernet Sauvignon. The rare Rampur Signature Reserve, priced at USD 1,000, is the world’s most expensive whisky. The amber-coloured whisky features notes of sherry, vanilla, fruits, and sweet toffee.
Rampur Double Cask Indian single malt is exported to more than 45 countries.
Amrut Single Malt: Even before the Paul Johns or the recent Indri, there was Amrut, the first Indian whisky brand to be served in fancy restaurants in the world’s most fashionable cities. Amrut Fusion, rated the third finest whisky in the world in 2010 by the Whisky Bible, was audaciously launched in Scotland, putting Indian single malts on the globe. Its limited-edition luxury release, The Greedy Angels 12-year-old, comes packaged in a 750ml crystal decanter with the name engraved in gold ink.
Amrut was the first Indian whisky brand to be served in fancy restaurants in the world’s most fashionable cities.
Strangers and Sons: The gin brand from balmy Goa has won several awards, including gold at Gin Master 2021. The smooth and silky mouthfeel of Strangers and Sons gins gives them a head start to lead the Indian gin revolution. It sources all its botanicals from India, right from Gondhoraj lemon to Indian bergamot, Nagpur oranges, spices and juniper, the main ingredient of a gin. The limited-edition Strangers and Sons Peru, in collaboration with Bombay Canteen, is an infused classic.
Baro Design: The Mumbai studio founded by Siddharth Sirohi takes an old-school approach to hand-crafting furniture, relying on traditional wood joinery methods. Baro Design’s furniture is inspired by mid-century English and Japanese aesthetics. Each piece is crafted using well-seasoned, reclaimed teakwood; the wood could have previously been a door, a bed, or even a pillar.
Baro Design works with reclaimed teak.
Indri: Indri-Trini, an exquisite inaugural single malt expression from the house of Piccadily Distillery, won gold at the International Spirits Challenge early in 2022, the year of its launch. Distilled in Haryana near the Himalayan foothills, in the catchment area of River Yamuna, the remarkable single malt is made from indigenous six-row barley. Indri–Trini is also the first Indian whisky to be produced in three different wooden barrels: ex-bourbon, ex-wine, and PX sherry casks.
The Table: Gauri Devidayal and Jay Yousuf’s labour of love, The Table, which turned 10 last year, was rated 85th best by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants for its blend of American, Asian, and Indian food. The ingredient-forward casual diner is not an ‘occasion restaurant’ as most fine dines tend to be. Instead, it is where you will go when you want to meet up with a friend, have a conversation in a lovely ambience, or just eat some very good food.
Indian Accent: So many culinary superstars mentored by Chef Manish Mehrotra at Indian Accent are working across the world that the restaurant has become a brand for not just serving great India-inspired food in ways we have never eaten before, but for also honing the skills of young chefs. At the flagship Indian Accent in Delhi, Chef Mehrotra serves a scoop of kulfi in a toy pressure cooker and a deconstructed paani puri. His kulchas are stuffed with duck and hoisin, but it is his Doda Barfi which is an eternal classic.
Deconstructed paani puri at Indian Accent.
Masque: Chef Prateek Sadhu may have quit the experimental restaurant, Masque, which he co-founded, but the ingredient-driven restaurant in Mumbai has not lost any of its charms. Sadhu worked in the kitchen to bring together indigenous Indian ingredients such as Ladakhi sea buckthorn with familiar flavours and complex cooking techniques. Chef Varun Totlani, who now heads it, has a new regional-inspired menu in place: Dessert with aam papad served with a wine sorbet and Murungakkai Marrow—a dish borrowed from Tamil Nadu’s Murungakkai Kuzhambu made with drumstick marrow.
Avartana: Chennai’s leading restaurant brand housed in ITC Grand Chola last year found a place on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants Discovery list. It serves up modern iterations of traditional South Indian food. Its four multi-course set tasting menus have a series of small bites, such as infused tomato rasam, asparagus and coconut stew, pan-fried cod, or the tiniest fillet of steamed seabass on a bed of fermented Gongura emulsion and butter rice. It brings drama to dining with its playful touches such as a miniature hammer to crack open the pannacotta ‘egg’ served in a bird’s nest, perfected under the expertise of Executive Chef Ajit Bangera.
Pannacotta ‘egg’ served in a bird’s nest at Avartana, Chennai.
The Bombay Canteen: The late Chef Floyd Cardoz, who lived and worked in New York, wanted a restaurant that would package nostalgia for the food he ate while growing up in Bombay, into new forms. He teamed up with Sameer Seth and Yash Bhange to give Mumbai one of its finest restaurants that celebrates India’s regional cuisines in the most innovative ways. Bombay Canteen was also the playing ground for one of India’s finest chefs, Thomas Zacharias and the kitchens are now helmed by another genius, Chef Shahzad Hussain.
Le15 Patisserie: Before Le15 Patisserie came along in 2010, we had bakeries that served desserts and five-star hotels where you ate black forest and strawberry cakes. Pooja Dhingra introduced us to what light-as-air French macarons taste like. Le15, which turned 12 this year, has built an entire business by marketing on Facebook and Instagram, a platform on which Dhingra has almost 7.5 million followers. It now has franchises and a packaged products brand.
Jamavar: Fans of Jamavar know the Indian speciality restaurant in some of The Leela Hotels properties as an opulent space where they eat classic Indian food from the north and south of India. Much before the Nair family sold the Leela brand and properties to Brookefield, Dinesh Nair, the co-chairman and managing director of The Leela Group, took Jamavar to Mayfair in London in 2016, the first restaurant brand from an Indian five-star hotel to move out of the confines of a hotel, and the country. Within a year, Jamavar won its first Michelin under Chef Rohit Ghai, which it lost, and then won back again, this time helmed by Dinesh’s daughter Samyukta Nair and culinary director Surendra Mohan.
Royal Enfield: This rugged motorcycle, with post-war retro-cool British design, has legions of fans and customers in India’s motorcycling community. The Royal Enfield Model G2, a classic launched by Eicher who brought this British-era brand after Independence, has redefined the middleweight motorcycling space and leads the segment globally.
Mahindra Thar: Ever since its launch in 2010, a rugged exterior and perfect off-loading capacity made Thar an SUV lover’s delight. The 2022 iteration retained the classic silhouette but with modern design elements like projector headlamps and multi-spoke alloy wheels. Features such as leather upholstery, touchscreen infotainment system, steering-mounted audio controls and a climate control system make it the vehicle of the future.
Kochi Biennale: In 2010, artist and curator Bose Krishnamachari and Riyas Komu (no longer part of the foundation that runs it) and the Kerala state government collaborated for India's first world-class biennale of contemporary art. It was the world’s first artist-led biennale and took art out of galleries into public spaces — temporary galleries in former warehouses of the spice trade era, and the city’s streets and walls. The ancient port city of Muziris, the ancient site for the global spice trade, and the new city of Kochi, form a vibrant backdrop to the Biennale.
The world’s first artist-led biennale.
India Art Fair: In 2008, Delhi’s Pragati Maidan played host to the first India Art Fair. Conceptualised by Neha Kirpal, a public relations professional who studied marketing at the University of Arts, London, the first edition in just four months with 30 galleries on board. What was primarily a trading platform where booths were hired by galleries to exhibit their artists, today is a wholesome art experience, with outdoor projects, curated walks, workshops, and book launches.
Saffronart: Saffron Art brought gallery and online auctions and sales to Indian collectors, before expanding to a global stage. Since the first online sale in December 2000, which netted $126,000, Saffronart has hosted several big auctions such as the early 2022 auction of contemporary Indian art masters, which breached the Rs 100 crore mark. It is also one of those rare platforms where you can buy Indian antiquities such as sculptures, artefacts, and miniature paintings.
Lodha Luxury: The real estate brand markets its projects as luxury addresses for the people who have made it in life. The complexes are sprawling, the towers are tall, the materials used are luxuriant, and the amenities include spas and hotel-like lobbies with rare art pieces, such as a Pablo Picasso painting.
Embassy Group: The real estate major redefined the Bengaluru skyline with its glass and chrome structures, engulfed by green open spaces, and standalone villas that are European in aesthetics — French windows, streamlined interiors, modern materials used for flooring, and a private garden. The settings have impeccably landscaped gardens and sweeping avenues.
Good Earth: Anita Lal founded Good Earth in 1996 from a small shop in Mumbai’s Kemps Corner. What began as an experiment to infuse Indian aesthetic into the design is today, 25 years later, a maximalist India-centred design, apparel, and spa and beauty product brand. Good Earth’s work includes interiors, art projects, cultural collaborations with institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, craft and design interventions, and a retail brand.
Founded 25 years ago, Good Earth is now a maximalist India-centred design, apparel, and spa and beauty product brand.
The Pure Concept Home: Conceptualised by founder Chanya Kaur, Pure Concept Homes is a luxury retail format that brought together eclectic and meticulously curated collections of luxurious furniture, fabrics, wallpaper, rugs, and ceramics. What sets it apart is its presence in high street malls across India, rather than as standalone stores, as is wont with other design brands.
Hermosa Design Studio: Hèrmosa Design Studio, with a production line in Kotak and a design store in Jaipur, channels the Pink City vibe and Rajasthan’s traditional craftsmanship with Swedish elegance.
Wrap: The Delhi design studio is spoken about in the same breath as its founder. Gunjan Gupta, whose fantasy-wrapped furniture are design icons, even made it to international art biennales as works of art. Her Marble Kursi, hewed out of Indian marble and wood and upholstered with a digitally printed fabric resting on a metal frame, manipulates a viewer’s perception. What looks like a hard seat is a sink-in chair.
Jaipur Rugs Company: Jaipur Rugs Company isn’t just a luxury brand; it is a social engineering business spanning six states, with an army of 40,000 weavers and artisans, largely women. What began life as largely a company that handcrafted rugs and exported them to the western world by Nand Kishore Chaudhary, is headed by the second generation of the family that is infusing modern aesthetics into rugs that continue to be hand weaved.
Nappa Dori: Gautam Sinha founded Nappa Dori in a Hauz Khas bylane as a leather goods brand that melds Indian design and Scandinavian minimalism. Nappa Dori has leapfrogged into the luxury lifestyle space. Its range of products goes from travel essentials to stationery, luggage, bags, shoes, home décor, accessories, and even a fine dining space, Café Dori, in Delhi.
Nappa Dori products embody Indian design and Scandinavian minimalism.
Baaya Design: Shibani Dasgupta, an NID Ahmedabad alumni, founded Baaya Design in 2009 as a brand that will package India’s artisanal heritage in sophisticated, modish forms. It has now spawned retail stores and craft-based interior styling in the form of wall art, murals, artefacts, lights, partitions, and art furniture for residential, hotels, and corporate office projects. Jain works with artisans across India to conceptualise and design a product that could be as small as a coaster or as large as mammoth sculptures and entire projects, such as Tata’s Bombay House.
Gulmohar Lane: The Jaipur furniture brand has several revival projects to its name, including an eight-sided spring-bedded, and hand-tufted sofa, which was a dying art in Jaipur. Gulmohar Lane is best known for handmade pieces crafted by a team of local karigars and carpenters. Concrete centre tables, side tables, leather sofa sets, and armchairs — at Gulmohar Lane’s design core are a range of materials and age-old skills.
Sarita Handa: What began in 1992 as a small largely export brand working from Tughlaqabad in New Delhi, is today a luxury home design brand that has revived the simple art of needlework. The company's design and manufacturing arm continue to supply to major retailers around the world, but the brand now has retail stores in six Indian cities, offering furnishings that were Indian in soul and European in aesthetics.
Freedom Tree: The home décor brand from a design and colour strategy studio, also the country’s first trend studio, sells an eclectic collection of furniture, tableware, textiles, floor coverings, lighting, and home fragrances and accessories. An ‘easy relaxed’ home aesthetic with signature colour palettes, strong prints, and a quirky product mix has earned the brand a place in India’s luxury pantheon.
AnanTaya, Jaipur: AnanTaya, a Jaipur brand by designer-architect couple Ayush and Geetanjani Kasliwal, has given us all kinds of fashion that goes from walls to wearables. If Naksha, their garment collection, is redolent with motifs from Indo-Persian architecture, at the AnanTaya design boutiques online and offline, you can buy signature products such as the Trinetra ‘Third Eye’ candle holder, a cluster of beaten brass pods. and the Rohida wooden bowls, traditional vessels made from a native Rajasthani tree, used by Jain priests, or even the brightly coloured kite wrapping paper made by the kite makers in the old city.
Kaunteya: The luxury tableware brand is a new entrant to the list of exciting Indian brands. Founded by former advertising and event management professionals, Aniruddha and Sonal Jetha, Kaunteya’s collections are a canvas for Indian mythology, architecture, and design elements in the form of Pichwai motifs on your dinner plate or architectural elements from the Indo-Saracenic Mysore Palace on the Dasara Series. Kaunteya uses modern art software and craftsmen-made art on their luxury tableware.
Vahdam Tea: The tea band shot into the limelight when American television host Oprah Winfrey mentioned her love for their chai blends. Much like other internet-era brands that have evolved over the past few years, Vahdam has disrupted the supply chain by offering garden fresh teas to consumers across the globe in the shortest possible time by leveraging technology and cutting out unnecessary middlemen. The teas from the company's stable are procured from plantations within days of production, packaged garden fresh and shipped directly to the consumer.
TeaBox: Three years ago, Teabox launched India’s most expensive tea, priced at Rs 200,000 per kg, which the brand labelled ‘India’s champagne’. Part of the Private Reserve Collection, the tea was named Badamtam Heritage Moonlight Spring White. This was the crowning moment for Kausshal Dugarr, who began online tea retailing start-up in 2013. Today, he sells in over 115 countries and is backed by Ratan Tata, who has invested in the company.
Badamtam Heritage Moonlight Spring White by TeaBox was priced at Rs 2 lakh per kg.
Blue Tokai: When India was still struggling with coffee café chains selling us below-average coffee, Blue Tokai Coffee Roasters taught us everything we needed to know about single estate origin coffee, various roasts, and such exotic stuff. The 50 stores and cafes’ strong India-wide brand is now teaching Tokyo a thing or two about Indian coffee. The brand, founded by Matt Chitharanjan, Namrata Asthana, and Shivam Shahi in 2013, has expanded to include cold brew bags, easy pour, cold brew cans in fun flavours, and roasted and ground coffee.
Araku Coffee: The coffee grown by Adivasi farmers in the eponymous Araku valley in north-eastern Andhra Pradesh achieved global acclaim when it was first sold in. The social enterprise set up by developmental economist Manoj Kumar runs under the aegis of Naandi Foundation. In Araku, tribals grow coffee under the canopy of a rainforest in an organic manner, which infuses it with the sublime flavour and zero hint of acidity due to the iron-rich soil and its unique temperature — warm days and cool nights.
Vnya: Vnya’s founder Supriya Sarin treks through remote mountains, forages through farms, and sources organically grown small-batch produce to sell through her retail stores in Mumbai and Goa. She works with over 4,000 farmers from remote areas, particularly Uttarakhand, and handpicks their products based on ethical farming principles and cruelty-free processes. Think rice and lentils from Uttarakhand, spices from across the land, pepper from Kerala, jakhar (a kind of mustard seeds) from Uttarakhand, homemade ghee, ethically sourced honey, and many more.
Eleftheria Cheese: In November 2021, the seven-year-old fromagerie founded by Mausam Jotwani, was voted among the world’s best at World Cheese Awards. The won for its innovative cheese, Burnost, a Norwegian-style, whey cheese with a deep, caramel brown colour and umami flavours. Narang, an amateur cheesemaker who launched her brand in 2014 at a farmer’s market in Mumbai, has trained with cheesemakers in Italy and turned her experiments into artisanal cheese varieties.
Paul and Mike: India’s first chocolate brand to bag silver at International Chocolate Awards 2021 is named after two farmers in Latin America, the continent from which cacao for the chocolate was first sourced. Vikas Temani, who wanted to do for chocolates what Sula did for wine, has established an artisanal chocolate brand with a presence in 28 cities. With its unique packaging (each chocolate pack educates and entertains) and its flavour experimentations, Paul & Mike is what you would turn to for your fix of chocolate that’s good and innately Indian.
Paul and Mike 64% Dark Sichuan Pepper
Kashmir Rare: In a world ruled by Instagram and defined by Covid, here is one brand that was born on Instagram right in midst of the pandemic. The homegrown gourmet brand by Manjot Chawla sources the purest of products from Srinagar Valley. There is saffron, organically grown almonds and walnuts, and dried apricots from Ladakh as a basic basket. To the basket, the brand adds seasonal produce: chocolate bark with almonds and walnuts, as well as a batch of dried vegetables such as sundried tomatoes, aubergine, bottle gourd, and mushrooms in winters.
Studio Coppre: The Pune-based brand employs Tambat artisans, who once made weapons for the Marathas, to create copper home décor, and utility items, as well as dinnerware. The World Craft Council-awarded Studio Coppre’s patterns have revitalised Tambat copperware, making it relevant for contemporary homes. The brand has sold in Frankfurt and New York through exhibitions, and at design weeks in Milan, London, and Dubai.