Tucked away in a lane at Kalbadevi, Mumbai sits Bubber Couture, an Indian couture fashion label for men and women, easy to miss but you’ll thank us we didn’t.
The brand is solely owned and managed by two talented twins and let us add, identical twin sisters. Hospitable and amiable, the twins let us into their boutique and we couldn’t be less excited. As racks of Indian wear for both, men and women lined the walls, we felt like we had walked into a costume room for a movie prepping for a ‘wedding’ scene. From anarkalis in bright colours to quirky bandhi-jackets for men, we couldn’t wait to start asking the duo about their store and craft.
Aanchal and Sanjana have pretty much done most things as a pair. From studying design at S.N.D.T College, Juhu to working with fashion designer Arjun Khanna, the sisters have today completed a six-year journey curating a fashion line that is recognized and loved.
When it comes to Indian weddings and outfits, the couple’s wardrobe takes center-stage. Not only the couple, from family to friends, every one runs helter-skelter looking for that ‘particular’ colour or that ‘particular’ design. Bubber Couture caters to those looking for couture quality comfortable attire at affordable rates. From re-usable bandhis to reversible kurtas, the sisters at Bubber Couture have just the solution for everything.
WM: In this competitive industry, why did you’ll think it was time to start Bubber Couture, a brand of your own?
Sanjana: From a very young age we were interested in becoming artists and we weren’t perfect at art. We always knew we wanted to do something creative but we weren’t sure what sort of canvas we could do it on. After a three-year intensive apparel manufacturing and designing course and after working with Arjun Khanna, we decided it was time.
Aanchal: What we felt was that a lot of courses in India focus on women’s wear. Even if they taught us mens wear, it was just one day. Then we went on to work with Arjun Khanna and it clicked immediately. In college, we weren’t taught the craft so I would just sometimes watch the karigars make a sherwani. We loved men’s wear so much that we decided to take off with a brand of our own. We did purely men’s wear and now we have started doing women’s wear too. We moved over to women’s wear because our clients were demanding it but men’s wear is our forte.
WM: Give us two reasons you’ll prefer designing men’s wear.
Sanjana: I actually prefer designing men’s wear because it involves simple and classic silhouettes and I like classic and simple.
Aanchal: For me, it’s a simpler canvas to be honest. The trends change so quickly for women that it becomes difficult to cater to women. My style is very eternal and this works for men.
WM: Customisation is a big part of your business, tell us why and how you’ll go about it.
Sanjana: We do both, off-the-rack as well as customise. Also, we feel that with Instagram, women are buying their own fabrics and becoming their own designers. What happens is, as a designer, not much is left then for us to design and we are only left advising people. Also, I feel the women’s market is over concentrated and everyone coming out of a fashion college is doing women’s wear. I think men’s wear has lot of scope. We fall in between of retail and the big names. We provide affordability and customisation. Big designers are very fixed in what they do and don’t customise. This level of customisation is not there with big designers which is fine. So, a lot of people may get a few outfits from those big designers but they will get their closets done by us. The family comes to us. Business wise too, this works for us. Post the wedding also they come back for other outfits.
Aanchal: With men, it’s not like each man wants to customise their outfits. Some may have a colour in mind but most men don’t have the time and energy for it.
WM: How do you recreate art on your clothes?
Sanjana: With colour, the various shades in colour and with different tones. We use that aesthetic onto our clothes too. In art, there is a colour story, so we apply that same concept on our clothes. Also, there are so many different kinds of fabrics like cotton-linen and cotton-silk and various other blends of fabrics so, it gets interesting. We also keep in mind that we are dealing with the ‘real man’ so we cater our silhouettes to all kinds of body-types too. That’s what we feel people require and want.
Aanchal: Art has structure, colour and balance; we use that same concept with our clothes too. We did something called digitally designed bandhis. We use a lot of print as media to explore art. Also, colour combinations and textures play an important part. Texture is a difficult thing to get on a canvas and fabric is a better canvas to use. You could also do something in 3D! Some of our bandhis have prints on the inside. Some of them are two-way wears while sometimes it’s just for the wearer to enjoy.
WM: That’s interesting, ‘two-way wears’, so essentially it’s re-purposing the same piece, right?
Sanjana: We are identical twins and we always team up together. We are sort of independent but dependent in certain ways and so our design process is also similar. It’s a very combined sort of process. We like different things sometimes and so, we thought we could incorporate both our ideas on to one garment. That’s where the reversible aspect came in with our clothes. We focus on re-usability too. A lot of people thank us later, after the wedding when they can wear the garment in another way.
Aanchal: Our reversibles fly off the rack. Some of our customers come specifically for that. That has become our USP, mainly for men. And for women we make them do a lot of separates because in the future it becomes easier to pair with.
WM: Other than your reversible concept, what else would you’ll say you’ll do differently?
Sanjana: We introduced gold plated buttons, a whole range of twenty-two carat enamel-work gold plated button that are removable. Same for collars, we give you a spare collar too. We also have a reversible kurta that’s not in production yet but we have sampled it a week back. We have Jacket-bandhgalas too.
Aanchal: What people do is take one or two of these buttons and add it to a kurta. So when you want to dress it down you can take them off.
WM: When we think Indian festive or ethnic wear, comfortability is not factored in, what is your take on comfortability of your clothes?
Sanjana:We always ask our clients what fit he would like and make the clothes accordingly. Secondly we also keep in mind the fabric used. The first few things we ask are where are you wearing it and what time of day are you wearing it.
Aanchal: For example, a lot of people are uncomfortable with sherwanis and what so we came up with a ‘formal kurta’, it has the thinness of a kurta but it looks like a sherwani. People prefer this so much that today it’s sold out. People having summer weddings and destination weddings opt for this.
WM: Let’s talk affordability, what bracket do you’ll fall into when it comes to price?
Sanjana:We aren’t cheap like retail pieces because of the various services we offer. Here, since each piece is different, prices kind of go up and we’re not as expensive as high-end designers so I’d say we’re in the mid-bracket. Also, what sets us apart is the amount of detailing that goes into the pieces. Sometimes at one wedding we have twenty people wearing our clothes so via detailing we have to make sure they each feel that they are wearing something different.
Aanchal: Also, even if the colours may be the same, if you look closer, the fabric and detailing is very different. People are experimenting with bandhi colours because now the focus is to stand out. We follow the same pricing sheet for men and women.