Traditional Indian weddings are a huge production which usually calls for a few nights of celebration.
From the engagement party and mehndi night (traditional Indian hen night) to the actual wedding ceremony and dinner reception, there’s quite a few outfit changes for the couple and their entourage.
It’s a costly affair, and you really only end up wearing these outfits once. There’s also a lack of choices, adding to the difficulty in purchasing unique bridal outfits for weddings or wedding photo shoots.
That’s why two friends decided to come up with a business that provides traditional Indian bridal and bridal party costumes for purchase or rent.
Nishalni Naidu, 27, and Rimka Sandhu, 26, had found it difficult to find quality one-off pieces to buy or rent, so they decided to venture into the business themselves. They also realised there was a lack of bridal studios catering to Indian brides.
Called Unveil Atelier, the boutique is located in Kuala Lumpur, though you can also go online to buy or rent the outifts.
“We’ve always had similar interests but only realised its potential after a holiday to India where we realised we shared our taste in the clothes there too. It was through that experience that we also thought to go into business together since we are creatively in sync,” shared Rimka.
They found a wide variety of the latest Indian fashions by sourcing garments from Mumbai, Delhi, Gujarat and Rajasthan. One will find lehengas featuring detailing like Phulkari (an embroidery technique from the Punjab region) and Zardozi (metal threadwork) which add to the prestige and modernity of each suit.
The business, which started in May, sees a varied clientale including those who need a traditional outfit, be it for a Bollywood-themed office party or for visiting on Deepavali day.
They also took into account expats who live here or are attending a friend’s destination wedding, and may need to rent an outfit.
The sizes range from small to large, and the lehengas – for sale or rent – can also be altered. While the rental sarees will be altered minimally for general clientele, purchased outfits can be altered according to the customer’s requirements.
A team of two at the moment, they spend most of their time designing lehenga tops and researching the latest lehenga styles while entertaining clients.
“When starting a business, investing our blood, sweat and tears at the start till the business grows is crucial. There will come a time where we won’t be able to juggle everything and so, will look into expanding and growing our team then,” says Rimka.
Some of the challenges faced include the difficulty in deal-ing with people from India, as the industry there is mainly run by men.
“We had to become a little more aggressive with our dealings, but we chose to see the positive in the situation as it toughened us up to be better entrepreneurs,” says Nishalni.
Currently, they are in the midst of designing a Spring/Summer 2017 collection.
While the outfits sold are of the more traditional variety, they are looking at launching an in-house ready-to-wear collection focusing on contemporary Indian outfits.
“We are incorporating mod elements to the traditional Indian garment in order to make it an easily wearable outfit as opposed to the traditional sarees, which could be difficult for newbies or other ethnicities to drape,” shared Rimka.
There are expansion plans through regional fashion shows and to international markets in the future. They are also thinking of including designers from Malaysia and other countries outside of India. Another thing they will be looking at are adding accessories such as shoes, bags and bangles as well as men’s suits.