06 Feb 2018 15:27 IST

Weaving a global style statement in traditional handlooms

SGBG, an Indian women’s wear brand, sells premium garments across the world

Surya Giri, 23, co-founder of SGBG, opens his leather briefcase, picks up an exquisite western wear for women and explains that it was hand-embroidered by fine craftsmen in India over an eight-month period.

SGBG seeks to revive treasures in the handloom sector and script a new Indian success story in the global luxury fashion market with its own label - SGBG.

Founded by the mother-son duo of Bindu Giri and Surya Giri, SGBG is an Indian luxury western women’s wear brand. The two-year-old company is focussing on reviving ancient textiles, particularly those that have vanished over the years.

For more than a decade, Bindu has been designing and selling premium garments that include saris and ethnic wear to select clientèle across the world, with strong presence in Singapore, the US, the UK and the domestic market.

Her designs and artisans have won a number of national awards. She was exposed to exquisite craftsmanship at a young age. Bindu acquired degrees in business and apparel design from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and LaSalle School of Art, a private arts institution in Singapore, respectively.

“My mother has worked in the handloom industry for about 15 years. She has been working on reviving our ancient handloom motifs and traditional ways of working in hand-made textiles,” says Surya.

Surya, who graduated in economics and finance from the University of Chicago in 2016, comes from a music and orchestration background.

After seeing his mother’s efforts in the handloom sector and impressed by the skills of weavers, Surya was convinced that the attention to detail and perfection that he imbibed from the music and film industry would be useful in the handloom sector to make it appeal to a global audience.

He decided to float SGBG to highlight the incredible wealth of knowledge, history, class and culture to the world. Surya notes that handloom work is highly under-valued and under-compensated.

“The trigger came up when I was shooting a documentary in Kanchipuram. We have phenomenal designers in India across the spectrum. I realised that there was so much wealth of story and history in India and why can’t this compete on an international level without any compromises in terms of quality,” he says.

SGBG planned to build on the foundations laid by his mother in sourcing of textiles and working with master weavers and craftsman to take it to international buyers. “We have been working from a high fashion, luxury perspective for our own label. To build a global brand is essentially our goal,” he says.

SGBG’s luxury women’s wear collections are hand-made in India by highly skilled weavers, hand-embroiderers and artisans. The label’s pieces could take a year to weave.

Weavers network

SGBG has developed a network of 45 weavers, including several national awardees, from different clusters. A lot of them work exclusively for SGBG and the company protects its IP.

It has also set up an 800 sq ft design studio in Chennai with half a dozen people. The team works on innovative ways to make sure that handloom is entirely authentic, high quality and rooted in heritage.

“We want to operate as a global luxury brand – independent, true to ethics and with sustainable sourcing of fabrics and clean supply chain,” he explains. Barring some high-end fabrics, most of the textiles are sourced within India. It has launched its first collection ‘Night & Day’ comprising 22 different pieces and will launch the second collection in a few months. Their pieces, which are sold at a premium, can be ordered at www.sgbgatelier.com. Its collections are currently placed along with some of the global fashion brands in boutiques and major departmental stores in London, Tokyo and Dubai, according to Surya.

“These stores sell high-end fashion brands. With price premium over other products, SGBG’s label sits along with a lot of younger emerging and recognisable brands,” says Surya.

He is happy with the response to his label in the global market. “We were really surprised by the profile of customers. We thought our initial customers will be in the 28-40 years age group, Indian Diaspora. The target segment expanded to 23-58 years outside the Diaspora,” tells Surya. He plans to take the label to more markets. Surya has roped in his father Krishna Giri, formerly Vice-Chairman and Managing Partner of Accenture India, for devising marketing strategies.

(The article first appeared in The Hindu BusinessLine.)