Pockets are emptying sooner than you thought this summer thanks to all the easy trends one can splurge on? Here’s a warning: we’re just going to make it worse for you by acquainting you with one more brand you will surely fall in love with. Housed in Colaba, House Of Behram is a label we discovered a while back, after bumping into the owner, Mannat Atwal at The Trunk Show.
“I think from the word ‘go’, I wanted to create something that had my own DNA all over it. I gave it some time and worked in the industry to gain experience and make associations, and then I said to myself ‘now is the time to start it,’ and so I did,” says Mannat.
House Of Behram (HOB) is all about accepting and adapting to the unfamiliar, and boy they do it so well. From clothes with sharp silhouettes and solid colours to those that have a highly-feminine touch, this label is all about balancing androgyny with feminity. Here at HOB, fabrics speak louder than words.
With something for everyone, the label is a perfect go-to for everyday casual wear. More often than not, we women want to look our prim and proper selves yet seem like we’ve not tried too hard. And the clothes at HOB do just that for you. From sleek corporate wear to an outfit perfect for a brunch noon with the girls, HOB’s minimal aesthetics and quality constructions are sure to catch your eye.
We had a tête-à-tête with Mannat, and here’s what she has to say about her inspirations as well as the DNA of the label. Read on…
WM: Why the name ‘House Of Behram’?
MA: My maternal and paternal grandparents come from these two villages called Behram Sarishta and Behram in Punjab. So it was obvious for me to pick it up as a brand name. Why ‘House’? Because of my two houses in these villages, ones that I would visit often. I always knew I would pick something from my lineage. This just seemed perfect.
WM: Was a career in fashion always in the cards?
MA: Yes! I’m an alumni of NIFT Bangalore, after which I started working with Benetton India Pvt. Ltd. Being placed in different departments, I got to learn a lot about the business. While I was in the product and design department, I also gained experience in the commercial aspect. This gave me an insight into how things actually work. Then I worked at Sisley, where I was heading the design department. After this, I moved to Mumbai and started working with Diesel. Post that stint, I decided that it was time to start my own label.
WM: What gap in the retail market do you think you are bridging?
MA: I noticed that there are some labels that create khadi, anti-fit kind of clothing and then there are others, that construct embellished garments. I feel, we as people, especially women nowadays, are spending most of their time working, meeting people, or going out. We want to look prim and proper but not overdone. That is why I coined the term ‘Effortlessly Stylish’. Which is exactly where I think HOB stands with respect to market gap.
WM: Where do you draw inspirations for your designs from?
MA: For me, inspiration is divided into two major things—tangible and intangible. My intangible inspiration starts with a sub-conscious observation that I make, and somewhere down the line things connect and start showing in my designs. I don’t like to hold inspiration hostage to an event or a person. I keep it very open ended. As far as the tangible part goes, fabrics inspire me. As soon as I see a fabric, there is a reel run as to what I can do with it.
WM: Any favourite fabrics that you work with most or like creating pieces with?
MA: I don’t have any favourite fabric. I think the design dictates the fabric.
WM: But you’ve always had a love for fabrics, right?
MA: Fabrics inspire me and the prospect of what I can do with them inspires me too. I love to dig through old trunks of clothes and whenever I come across an old piece of clothing, I weave a story around it.
WM: This is your first collection, and so it must be quite exciting. Tell us about it.
MA: The collection is called ‘Linear’ and it comes from the fact that, like in art, a line is a start to every creation. This is my first collection, hence the name. It embodies our (the label’s) start into creative fashion. The collection is inspired from the 1940s, when one witnessed a change in womenswear from being feminine to utilitarian. It was this period when women’s clothing started picking up subtle cues from menswear, but at the same time was maintaining its softness and feminity. I saw this as a unique combination, picked that up and interpreted it in my own way.
WM: How would you define the style of HOB?
MA: The base for most of my collection is athleisure and androgyny; these are the two main elements in my clothing. I call it casual combined with smart wear. The casual ones are inspired by athleisure with more lines and fluidity in fabric. The pieces inspired by androgyny are more structured but with clean lines and soft colours to balance it out well.
WM: How do you go about designing your clothes?
MA: The three pillars which I start working with are that the garments should be recognised for their unique aesthetics; should be known for quality construction; and for versatility. I don’t like my clothes being event specific. I love the fact that people combine my garments in various ways to suit different occasions.
WM: Tell us the process of how you zero down on the fabrics to use.
MA: I feel that the fabric is the soul of design. I could have the best designs but if I don’t have the right fabric, it won’t carry through. I look into innovative fabrics. The design dictates my fabric. Once I’m done with the design process, the need of the design just dictates my fabric choice.
WM: What is the USP of House Of Behram?
MA: Firstly, it has to be effortlessly stylish. The pieces have a lot of quality work put into it. It is aesthetically minimal and unique because I tend to pick up elements that are not really associated with feminity but blend in such a way that it all comes together. There are hidden details in my clothes, which is my way of making the wearer feel special.
WM: What is the brand’s price point?
MA: I fall into the bracket where I believe it is affordable for a working woman. I also believe that people are ready to pay for quality, and that is exactly what I have to offer.
WM: What do you think you do differently from other designers?
MA: I pick fabrics on the basis of design, unlike what most designers do. My garments communicate differently with the wearer.
WM: Can you tell us about the projects that are in the pipeline for you?
MA: We are already working on our next collection. We also plan to take part in several pop-up shows happening in and around the city. My next step is to make the products available to consumers by placing them in multi-designer stores.