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Embracing imperfections of the handmade

A conversation with designer Ankita Kayal and her love for creating tactile experiences through her fashion brand - Paher.

Words by:

Anicce Crasto

Photos by:


Ankita Kayal’s personal aesthetic revolves around wabi-sabi—the Japanese philosophy around imperfections. ‘A little raw and not too polished’, she loves working with handspun fabrics for her brand Paher. To her a plain fabric, if handspun, is always rich in texture. “Hand-done stuff is never perfect, two things that are handmade can never be the same,” Kayal says. 

Paher, founded post-pandemic, is born out of Kayal’s personal lifestyle change to minimalism over the course of the lockdown. After graduating in fashion design from National Institute of Fashion Technology-Bangalore, she pursued a postgraduate degree in apparel design at National Institute of Design. After that, Kayal launched her brand in February 2021.

The name Paher is derived from the Sanskrit word prahar, which signifies an ancient clock where a day is divided into eight parts.The idea was to create garments destined to become heirlooms.


Beware: Envy Ahead

Wear a Paher and know that the world wouldn't know what hit it. Beware: heads will turn and eyes will sear with the jealousy of capable of Phthonos, the Greek god of envy who ratted out Hera.

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Garments are only as strong as the threads that they are constructed with; The intricacy of flowers and leaves is detailed within a notebook; Checks draped on a mannequin at Paher’s studio.

Ankita Kayal began experimenting with Indian textiles and tried to “make a more minimal and modern take on what already exists,” achieving a concoction of contemporary and functional pieces in one’s wardrobe. The use of organic silhouettes with muted colour palettes, creates a space for functionality and comfort. 

The history of Indian textiles has been categorised as natural and organic, so it was important for Kayal to incorporate this into her brand while she worked with naturally-dyed, handspun fabrics at Paher. Her initiative took her to a women’s co-operative in Shimoga, Karnataka, where she learnt the inner workings behind slow fashion and sourced the fabric to build her first collection.

For the second collection, the fabric was made from scratch. The creative team went to Phulia, West Bengal, to a village full of skilled jamdani artisans. They learnt from and collaborated with the craftsmen, taking them onboard for their project.

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A floral dreamscape in watercolour graces the working table at Paher; Nature holds within itself the capacity for a countless number of shapes and designs.

Apart from West Bengal and Karnataka, Paher has combed through the lands of Kutch, sourcing kala cotton, and Bhopal, for the shibori work—experimenting through the diverse crafts of India.

Although the studio is based in Bangalore, the production takes place across the clusters of the country, improvising on traditional motifs and designs. “These artisans have been working for generations. They are now trying to work with newer designers and wanting to expand their skill set or aesthetics, in terms of what the modern market wants,” says Kayal. 

Paher strongly focuses on the element of conscious clothing: not just in production, but also in consumption. “Paher’s pieces are things that you can wear throughout the day very comfortably. That, say, five years from now if I pull it out of my wardrobe, I can still wear it,” Kayal says.

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With the simplicity of a pencil, a flower blooms into life; In a world full of trends, the humility of stripes stands apart.
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A bit of the sky, pressed into cloth.

Anicce Crasto

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