She shaped a space that used to be a wine cellar into a fashion house way back in the 90s at South Mumbai’s tony Altamount Road. When Melange was born, few comprehended the actual connotation of the phrase, fashion sensibilities. Cut to 2019. The store has evolved into an undeniable beacon in the world of fashion, telescoping trends and redefining aesthetics in a quiet, classy manner. Much like its founder.
“Right from the beginning, I knew what I was offering was unique as something like this had not been explored in the industry till then,” recalls Sangita. “I had the conviction to do something I strongly believed in and was confident that it would appeal to the people. Of course, it feels incredible that it has been received and accepted with such amazing generosity by everyone in Mumbai as well as buyers from the international community as they visit year after year.
It is wonderful to meet people who have been coming here for 25 years. The trust and the faith they have put in us is quite unbelievable.” With reason, of course, as Sangita being the aesthetic visionary that she is, with qualifications in graphic design, jewellery design, interior decor, photography and silkscreen printing powering her along.
Today, her fashion talks big about sustainability. But Sangita sowed the seeds of an environmentally conscious approach to fashion way back in 1992, championing the revival of khadi. She explains the genesis of her perspective.
“I hail from a home where we used to worship trees and recycle old paper. Sustainability has always been a way of life for me. I have always been very conscious of how and what I have consumed. My aim has always been to bring awareness to the people by using a strong medium of fashion. I wanted to convey the message of preserving the heritage, environment and planet earth. Now it feels good to see the growing level of environmental awareness in young consumers which is making companies surge in an eco-conscious market.”
Sangita’s love for Indian culture propelled her to restore over a dozen heritage properties across India belonging to her family, including the over 100-year-old Kathiwada Raaj Mahal in Madhya Pradesh. She selectively opens the Mahal to individuals to live the organic life, cupped by 120 lush acres of the Vindhya range.
It is Sangita’s passionate sincerity that powers her interaction with innumerable artisans. She has touched the lives of countless families of craftsmen and weavers through her multiple initiatives. “I call it an enthralling journey along with the constant learning and sharing that we have helped each other with,” she confesses, counting human management as her biggest challenge as she tries to convert it to
Hers is an unusual call in a world that favours quick dumping of what is no longer in vogue. “It is a world of fast fashion where people are buying wear-and-throw garments—the biggest contributor for environmental destruction,” points out Sangita. “I still wear clothes that have been with me for the last 25 years. I wear each and every piece with love and affection, I change them around and upcycle them.
The current generation believes in online shopping where the irony is that the packing cost is higher than the garment itself. I feel we are dumping too much on planet earth,” she rues.As of now, she is pouring her energies into developing her wellness programmes, working with an Ayurvedic doctor to create her own product line. She is already curating a yoga and meditation retreat and is in the process of setting up a special wellness centre in an art deco bungalow in Mumbai.