All it took was an intention, the relentless realisation of which marked the beginning of her homegrown bag label called Love to Bag. This was a huge step in her career trajectory but also one that was preeminently needed. Before Ayushi Kanoi Gupta launched it, she was working with a buying house that was manufacturing and exporting the best of bags all over the world.
These were elegantly embellished, exquisitely crafted and meticulously handled before they embarked on a long journey across India’s borders into the hands of discerning patrons. But why weren’t such things to be seen in India anywhere, especially the fashion capital, Delhi, she wondered? As her brooding grew bolder, her resolve to fill the gap became stronger, and at last in 2012 she launched her own brand.
With her new collection just out, she tells us how the impact of one’s business matters rather than occasional compilations. “People remember you for is your viewpoint. I wanted India’s skill to be enjoyed within India too. Period. I saw lots of bags and accessories having an Indian aesthetic for the international market but none for India itself. Strange isn’t it?” says 34-year-old Gupta.
Rooting her work in intrinsic Indian craftsmanship, her offerings, including the new line, are handmade by master craftsmen who have been the custodians of the country’s fine art for centuries. “You see this come through the sheer intricacy of designs and embellishments that adorn each piece. Rich silks, satin, pure leather and fine beads are imported from Japan as they’re appreciated for their quality and standardisation. That blended with the adroitness of Indian hands, makes for an impeccable product, with not one stitch out of place,” she says.
Many of her designs are made using a distinctive embroidery method called stumpwork. This is raised embroidery which helps the embellishment look lifelike and keeps the shape intact. The ornamentation is then treated with a special chemical developed by her. Its application, a brand secret, is unique too. “This is a laborious process-driven task but is required for longevity of our product,” she says.
Gupta moved from Kolkata to Delhi in 2017. Relocating was the best decision for her business she says. “Just look at Delhi. How much it has to contribute. The museums, parks, people… the possibilities are endless for a creative person,” she says, adding, “I am also amazed to see how fashion-forward people are. You casually peek inside somebody’s car and you see them so well turned out,” she says, adding, “Delhi is enthusiastic about trying new things. If people here are high-end brand loyalists, they also look forward to other creative wares. Good for homegrown labels like us.”
Her production unit is in Gurgaon and she retails out of her store in Shahpurjat, where she meets all kinds of people. “When I talk to customers, I get to know the many remarkable pursuances they’re engaged in. It’s so uplifting to be around such energy,” she says. Additionally, she finds the people of the city very professional. “While the workmanship in Calcutta is unmatched, the scalability you can achieve here is unparalleled. If I gave my workers 2,000 pieces to make in 30 days with a small incentive, they will finish it in 20 days,” she says. She had no complaints. Delhi helps her design practice and she gives more reason to Delhi to be patrons of design.Lovetobag, 87 B Shahpurjat, Delhi. Available at select online stores