Culturas Corner highlights individuals who make their community a better place through their work, business, volunteering or activism. Today we learn about THERE!, a fashion brand redefining denim’s place in fashion. The company was founded by New Delhi-based sisters Ankita (who you may have seen on Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking”) and Gayatri Mallika Bansal. On the verge of releasing their upcoming collection called Hauwa (Arabic for “first women”), they tell us more about their company’s philosophy to be inclusive in design and usability.
We’re so excited to learn more about your company! First, we’d love to learn more about each of you. Can you tell us a little about yourselves and how your life led you to starting a business?
We both grew up in a space where our mother was alway experimenting with fabric and that made us extremely curious as to how beautifully a fabric can be designed to your choice and likes! We are both extremely different individuals with very different senses of taste and ways of life, but I think the place where we meet at a common ground is our constant need to create things. That is how THERE! came into existence when Gayatri and I both realised we were at the perfect place in our lives to finally live our dreams of owning a company together
How did THERE! begin? We want to know all about its inception.
The concept of owning a clothing company has always existed in our minds as an idea. We both grew up watching mom tailor her own clothes, pick her choice of fabrics and Gayatri was always very drawn to all of it. THERE! happened for both of us at a time when we were at crucial crossroads in our lives, respectively. After so many years of shopping at the malls, we both found a lot more joy in getting our own clothes designed at a nearby boutique. I had just quit my job as a marketing head of an E commerce brand and Gayatri was graduating from college. In that moment, it was a very seamless decision making process we went through and we knew that this was what we had to do and with no one but each other.
You describe THERE! as “the antithesis of fast fashion.” How do your clothes “celebrate the individual before their attire?”
The word antithesis in the most layman terms means the direct opposite of something else and in that regard, denim as a fabric is so versatile. It can be worn in multiple ways. With THERE!, we are trying to break the stereotype that is attached to denim, of it being just a casual piece of dressing in your wardrobe. THERE! is everything you’d never imagine a piece of denim clothing to be. A woman too wears so many different hats; our clothes have always tried to break away from the monotony of how they are perceived.
What sort of future do you see for THERE! ? What are your goals?
We see THERE! becoming the one-stop shop for denim all over the world. We intend to create a store where we onboard various other small business denim owners to come and sell their products (apart from garments) with THERE! We want to create a borderless shopping experience connecting different parts of the world with one another. We see us at THERE! selling our designs to international stores and doing exclusive collaborations with them. Everytime someone thinks anything to do with denim, they think THERE!
What is your favorite cultural memory?
Ankita: Choosing one cultural memory would be so difficult considering we celebrate a million festivals all around the year. It’s all so colourful most months of the year! But if I were to pick one of my favourite memories, it would be the one called “Kanjak.’ It’s another way of paying gratitude to the Supreme Goddess. Nine girls are welcomed into the house and are showered with delicious bhog and gifts. I remember us running from house to house as little girls, collecting our gifts (mostly 10 Rupees) and at the end of the day, all of us would collect at the colony park with our loot, end up at the departmental store and without any questions asked by our parents, splurge all that money on chips and chocolates! This day would end in the form of a small picnic with so many giggles all around!
GAYATRI: India as a country is known to celebrate each and every festival with so much zeal and togetherness. Our culture and our upbringing has been such that we’ve never distinguished any sort of festival. One cultural memory I’d pick would be Holi because we celebrate it by first burning the holika, which also is a sign of wiping all our evils within and starting afresh, followed by playing with colors and flowers. It’s a day we spend all our time with friends and family, applying color and showering flowers on one another. It’s just so much fun, color and excitement that it’s one festival I look forward to and of course the rigorous and umpteen number of bathing sessions to get rid of the color.
Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Know someone who should be featured on Culturas Corner? Nominate them here.