Ahmedabad-based designer duo, Shyamal and Bhumika, is known for their ethnic menswear and womenswear worldwide. Established in 2003, the brand Shyamal & Bhumika has now gained quite a reputation in Indian and international markets alike, with attires that reflect the designers’ distinguished style, impeccable intricate detailing and eye for perfection. The husband-wife duo has now launched their first flagship store at DLF Emporio, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.

Shyamal and Bhumika started their label at a young age. As Shyamal recounts, “I was sent to Hyderabad to learn Indian crafts at the age of 20. I fell in love with weaving and tried my hand at developing unique new colour combinations in woven fabrics. Our first prêt collection was born when Bhumika and I amalgamated her sketches, from when she was interning in Bangalore, with the woven fabrics I was working on. Following that, Bhumika worked on her graduation project, which was about reviving the Amdavadi real zari weaving technique and that became our first step into the world of couture and wedding wear. And before we knew it, our label was already
in process.”

The brand takes inspiration from traditional Indian crafts and artisanal techniques, to create couture collections relevant to modern-day sensibilities. About this, Bhumika says, “Inspiration could come from the unexpected. It could be Mother Nature, architecture, Ahmedabad—our UNESCO world heritage city where we live—the wonderful and passionate artisans that work with us. Our designs portray our love for craftsmanship and the new aesthetic that connects the millennial with her roots.”

Designer duo Bhumika and Shyamal.

Describing the signature style of Shyamal & Bhumika creations, Bhumika uses the phrase, “timeless and distinct in character”. She says, “Our brand is all about the beauty of intricate hand-crafted Indian wear for the modern woman. Our designs are an ideal blend of couture and craft that connect you to your roots in a way that is most appealing to today’s generation. They are timeless and distinct in character.”

The power couple has together come up with numerous ethnic wear collections for both men and women. Shyamal talks to Guardian 20 about their upcoming collection called “A Parisian Symphony”. He says, “Our collection, ‘A Parisian Symphony’ is an enthralling blend of craft and colour for a beautiful night as the drama of autumn unfolds. We visualise the collection through our muse who dresses extraordinarily for an evening out at the opera in an extremely dramatic setting of the fall season. Globetrotting, tasteful, powerful, feminine and sophisticated is how we describe our muse who is aptly showcased in the collection.”

When asked if they have any favourites among their past collections, Bhumika says, “Each of our collection is like our baby. We have no favourites but we are always nostalgic about all the work we have done. However, the latest collections are always currently on our mind and we are excited to present them. Our spring couture 2018 collection, ‘Serenades of Spring’, is the true reflection of the quintessential spring-time bride. We played around with organza saris, with ruffles and muted tones. It’s very modern and romantic aesthetically, while the silhouettes are Indian. I am here in Chicago and Toronto with the collection and people are absolutely stunned with the beauty of the new line. For our Fall 2018 collection we experimented with silhouettes as well. We had short dresses paired with boots, lehengas with belts, and the colours were darker to bring out the essence of the season.”

The designers aim to popularise traditional Indian crafts, and to stay true to their roots, which helps them in connecting with costumers. Bhumika says, “Our love for traditional Indian crafts was born even before the inception of our brand. We’re both extremely close to our roots and like to portray that in all our collections. Designers are now exploring more options and looking to incorporate more weaves and crafts in their collections. This works extremely well with our NRI consumers, who are far away from home. It enables them to keep a little part of home with themselves.”

Indian traditional designs are appreciated worldwide but have we made any difference in the fashion market on the global platform?  “India has always been a reference point and inspiration to many in the past and will continue to do so in the future,” Bhumika tells us. “Our country is very rich in culture. The embroideries and handicrafts that exist here are unparalleled, and that’s why we have always seen Indian trends on the global fashion scene. Dior did a show that was inspired by our country and so did Karl Lagerfeld and many others. The work of Indian fashion designers is inspiring the fashion industry now more than ever before.”

Bhumika believes that the Indian fashion scene has evolved a lot since she started out. She says, “Fashion has evolved drastically since we joined the industry. The industry is going through a wave as we speak. Fashion design has become more sought-after as an education choice, and there is a designer or stylist in every building. The silhouettes have become more contemporary with global influences and a lot of wonderful creative people are doing amazing things.”

Shyamal also agrees with this view. He feels that this is a good time for Indian fashion. Young designers from India are making their mark globally, and exhibiting their work in cities like Paris and New York. He says, “There is a lot of innovation we’ve seen in Indian fashion as our local weavers, embroiderers, dyers and printers get more connected with what is going on in the world. Young designers are doing a huge variety of styles, which is leaving customers spoilt for choice. It is a fabulous time to be an Indian fashion shopper.”

When asked about their equation with each other as designers, Shyamal says, “We have been working together since the age of 20, so we have never known any other way. We respect each other’s ideas and our collections are an amalgamation of our interpretations. Sometimes it functions like a relay where one picks up from where the other leaves, and communication is the key. We inspire each other to explore and widen our horizons. Bhumika is a trained fashion designer from the NIFT, and handles the designing and technical aspects, whereas I take care of the creative direction, strategy and other aspects of the label. We are always in discussion and open to inputs from each other as our responsibilities do overlap from time to time.”