August 10, 2017

SHOP-FEEL-SUPPORT: New Concept Stores that offer you more than just ‘Merchandise’

Retail therapy for any woman has always been a mood lifter and an experience. There’s no denying that men enjoy shopping as much, even though they prefer to buy often at the click of a mouse as compared to women, who would rather touch and feel, and then consider a ‘possession’. In keeping with this necessity of feel-good factor and experience, which is gaining popularity amidst shoppers, a few young entrepreneurs have come up with some unique ideas of concept stores. They are offering an ‘ambience’ to feel while you shop, and support craftsmen and weavers from around the country.

Deshaj at Old Ballygunge

Last month, when a young couple Sonali and Gopal extended their store-cum-retreat concept at Moram, to the city, Kolkata became home to such an experience. Moram, close to the Prantik railway station, offers a quite weekend gateaway and serves authentic Bengali cuisine, cooked by their artisans. It provides tourists a shopping experience from their in-house brand ‘Deshaj’.

Deshaj opened its first store-cum-cafe at 32, Old Ballygunge last month. The cafe lures you inside its country-like fence and rustic furniture. You may either sit outside, refreshing over a Silver Brew, while nibbling into a muffin or cosy-up inside over a pasta. Presently it has a small but scrumptious menu: a variety of tea, coffee, mock-tail and nibbles. It houses an artisanal line of dresses, shrugs, tunics, sarees for women and kurtas for men. They are hand crafted by the artisans they support and train at Moram in Birbhum. What I liked is the hand-made fabric jewellery they offer. They have some cool kantha and patch-work fabric bags and colourful raw hide sandals. The home-decor objects, sourced from various places, are collector’s items indeed. Some books on craft are also on the shelves. While the store offers a quiet and inexpensive evening for dating couples, it also allows busy couples to spent some quality ‘we time’ together.

Bohurupi at Tollygunge

Abhishek Roy recently gifted the city with such a designer studio named ‘Bohurupi’ at Tollygunge. The name itself echoes the traditional folk performers who use to travel across villages dressed as various characters to earn a living. As the word suggests the store too offers Bohu (many) Rup (moods). This 1000 sq ft of visual pleasure takes you straight into a traditional Bengali house with red cemented floors, high ceiling and a nostalgic staircase. Roy has always been close to Nature and worked with artisans. The old world charm goes hand-in-hand with his crafty collection of clothes in organic fabrics like linen, jute and cotton using textures and block prints, and accessories for both men and women. The designer offers customization by appointment. What makes your shopping experience unique here is a room full of books on fashion and textiles, which you can read and enrich yourself. His future plans include introducing workshops on makeup and other styling elements to give the customers different makeovers, or should we say ‘Bohu Rup’?

Tanzil at Shyambati

Shantiniketan has a cultural charm that makes you come back each time and find it new, every time. Tucked away in the corner of Shyambati, ‘Tanzil’ has been welcoming weekenders for about one and a half year. Actor Badsha Maitra initiated the idea of creating a space where one could find the best of Indian crafts, sourced directly from the artisans and therefore is not a pinch to the pocket.

It is not surprising to find colourful Lambani bags brushing shoulders with elegant Kantha slings. One could find home decor to clothes and accessories here. The collection definitely looks handpicked, with an aesthetic eye. The store takes you through a narrow yet well decorated corridor to three more rooms, which house different categories. The biggest room has clothes: tunics, dresses, Bengal handloom sarees, Lambani sarees, and Telias. Their antique tribal Lambani jewellery collection is to die for. Crafts from Bastar and Dokra both sit pretty on the shelves. As the name suggests, it indeed is a one stop solution to ‘beautify your own paradise’. The place is often frequented by many celebrities who also enjoy sipping a cup of Darjeeling tea along with Mangsor Ghugni in the adjoining cafe named ‘Peyala’ (cup in Bengali). The red cloth tulip hanging lights and the cycle baskets used as magazine holders cannot go unnoticed. The entire place is tastefully done with wooden and cane furniture and is available for performance to artists.

Sreenanda Palit

Sreenanda Palit

Sreenanda Palit, presently heading the Fashion Communication Department at NIFT Kolkata, has a couple of Masters Degree in Fashion Journalism and Communication (from India and London), and currently is pursuing her PhD. She has a flare for Fashion writing and hand drawn illustrations. She undertook the huge Indian Story social media campaign, in 2015, which was a roaring success. She had also been writing concept notes and making Look Books for designers. Her other passion includes craft and product design. Sreenanda has published several research papers as well.