Lucknow, the city known for its interesting blend of traditional culture and modern values, not only leaves you spellbound with its architectural masterpieces, rich history of the Nawabs, or lip-smacking kebabs but also excels in the art of embroidery. Chikankari is one of most popular art of hand embroidery.
The simple yet detailed hand work over any kind of garment gives it a classy and subtle look which can be counted under both heavy and simple design depending upon the occasion.
The timeless art of Chikankari has crossed decades of fashion statements with its beauty.
While chikankari retains its effervescence and elegance even after so many years, the fashion world is reinventing this meticulously crafted embroidery art to suit contemporary aesthetics. Launched in 2018 by Komal Shukla and Hardik Deol, The Chikan Label is one such retail brand that’s promoting the delicate beauty of the eternal and classic Lucknowi Chikankari worldwide. Besides, the brand aims to elevate the stature of the skilled artisans of India who are tirelessly preserving this craft through their hard work and unmatched craftsmanship.
Inching towards a shared dream
When two friends with a common vision come together, a startup usually happens. Soon after finishing college, Komal and Hardik joined hands to give shape and form to their entrepreneurial dream with just a modest sum of 15k. Komal explains “I didn’t have a degree in fashion but the passion and excitement for exploring the fashion world was palpable even in those early days. I loved visiting different exhibitions where art and crafts of different Indian states could be witnessed.”
Komal completed her graduation from Lucknow in 2014 and attempted CAT 2015 but due to unavoidable circumstances at home, she had to settle for a Distant MBA program. With a degree in Operation management, Komal worked in a private firm to get an idea about how things work. Within 9-10 months, she realized a 9-to-5 job isn’t a feasible option. “I have my own dreams to fulfill and can’t pursue someone else’s.” says the spirited girl. She worked as a freelancer, writing articles and blogs for many digital platforms and websites.
Hardik, on the other hand, was experienced in digital marketing and website development as he was already working for renowned real estate projects in Lucknow. So setting up a well-designed, user-friendly website wasn’t much of a hassle for both.
How did it all begin?
The duo started off by selling ethnic wear from Gujarat on a third party e-commerce website. Since Komal hailed from Lucknow, she was already familiar with the exquisite charm of Chikankari that emanates from the heart of Awadh. She fondly remembers how her mother and grandmother used to love wearing chikankari, often gifting it to relatives living abroad.
Both Komal and Hardik observed how foreigners are duped with absurd prices when they throng to buy chikankari dresses from local stores. That’s when the enterprising duo decided to take this artistry to a global stage. Soon enough, the idea of establishing a dedicated chikankari label emerged. Thus, the brand was named “The Chikan Label” along with its tagline “Crafting Culture”.
A look into the evolution of The Chikan Label
Initially, the products were sourced from local vendors and artisans and sold on the website. Eventually, the startup opened its own manufacturing unit with its own team of tailors, block printers, women embroiderers, washermen etc. Komal adds “Now we have planned the whole process of production to create eco-friendly and sustainable fashion with zero wastage. We’ve teamed up with 10 different groups of artisans of which mostly were women.”
The main motive behind starting its own manufacturing was to provide the best quality of work, sustainable fabric, easy delivery and returns and most importantly fair wages to the artisans.
The startup tied up with more than 5 shipping companies for India and used FedEx and DHL for delivery abroad.
Overcoming the challenges of machine embroidery
The startup ensures artisans and tailors are paid fairly for their unparalleled skill, creativity and mastery over the craft. It focuses on different aspects to raise their standard of living.
In the age of fast fashion and bulk production, the brand aims to promote slow and sustainable fashion. Machines may try to replace handmade artistry but tthatare some things which even the most sophisticated machinery cannot replicate. The market is inundated with machine embroidered clothes which are being sold in the name of authentic chikankari.
Sadly, even high-end brands and prominent celebrities are promoting fake machine embroidery without realizing what it takes to create real Chikankari outfits. That’s why, The Chikan Label regularly comes up with these behind-the-scenes videos on Instagram to show how artisans breathe life into the delicate weaves to create the classic chikankari.Also, The chikan Label has crossed 100k followers on Instagram recently.
The Chikan Label: Presenting the vintage Awadhi handicraft with a modern twist
Breeze through the Sitar collection of chikankari kurtas or Kumudni kurta collection or Mulmul collection of cotton, floral print kurtas. It offers a stunning range of short kurtas, titli kurtas, sharara suits, beautiful chikankari Sarees, Designer Anarkalis, Pretty tunics with chikankari work and many many more. Every outfit is a seamless amalgamation of comfort and style.
Online services are available here. The Chikan Label boasts of celebrity clients such as Hina Khan Gauhar Khan Rubina Dilaik, Karishma tanna, Mahi vijj ,Aarti Singh and also many Popular influencers like Komal Pandey, Kritika Khurana, Shiv Shakti who often adorn the brand’s most elegant outfits. While most businesses struggled during the pandemic, this one really came into its own. Insane amount of orders poured in during the lockdown period and that turned out to be a game-changer for the venture.
What’s in store for the future
The brand has already made considerable headway in the national fashion scene. Now, it’s determined to make its digital appearance in the international market. The founders point out how they are planning to register their physical presence by opening stores and participating in international exhibitions in the USA and UK and other countries in the coming years.
Moreover, they are about to launch a luxury fashion retail online for its high-end users only.
The Chikan Label strives to be a force to reckon with on a global platform for its consistent efforts to preserve and promote Lucknowi chikankari.
Instagram Link – https://www.instagram.com/thechikanlabel/
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