Saturday, January 16, 2010

Contemporary India: Anokhi and Rasa

After a disappointing day of being driven around and deposited at one horrible 'textile emporium' after another - seriously, learn from my mistakes and don't go to these - I decided to get tough and just gave our driver addresses and wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. Needless to say, he wasn't too happy and tried to tell us that it's too expensive or it might be closed or that they're not sure where it is...or in one case, he just drove straight into a wholesaler - which was slightly better, but man were they a pushy, rude bunch! Here are a few snaps I took of the some of the throws they had on offer, really lovely, but no room in the bag!

Anyhoo - a few independant places offer quality workmanship, beautiful fabric and contemporary designs that you won't see anywhere else. Most don't appear to be available outside of India (or in Australia at least)...I'm tempted to start importing! The prices are good and it's mainly 'well to do' Indians shopping at these places. The stores I visited were Anokhi, Rasa, Soma, Ratan Textiles, FabIndia and Cottons (no webpage available).

Most famous for educating people about block printing is Anokhi - I first saw and read about this place in Selvedge Magazine. There is a museum near the Amber Fort with a very small store in it, but the the main store in Jaipur is big, modern, and has a great cafe; where you can get plunger coffee, salads, sandwiches and meals that are safe to eat. When we went it was full of french tourists!

The store is stocked with a huge range of block printed bedding, napery, tablecloths and then there is the clothing, which is seasonal. You can also buy block printed sarees. A lot of the clothing styles are for Indian tastes, although there did seem to be western-style skirts and blouses in some of the colourways. I snagged a cute top from last season (on sale - hooray!): 
Which has a two colour block print,

hand beading on the sleeves,

and some embroidery work on the neckline. 

Next stop was Rasa - this place is one small room (literally), tucked away from the street so it's not somewhere you'd stumble across. I couldn't find too much out about the company unfortunately, except everything is designed and made in Jaipur. While we were there, heaps of classy Indians filed in while we were there to try on shift dresses and pick out matching bed linen. The clothing is mostly Indian styling, in soft cottons and exquisite silks.
The homewares were fabulous! Fully block printed sheet sets, cushion covers, and bedspreads.

I couldn't resist and bought a wonderful light quilt, with Japanese inspired flowers in three colours on one side,

and a small repeat print on the other side.

It came in a printed cotton sack - which is great as I had nowhere in my luggage to put it.

According to the very limited website, the only place outside of India to stock them is the Conran store - of course! My dream job is to be a buyer for that man! (*First two photos above are borrowed from the Rasa website). Stay tuned for Soma and Ratan Textiles.


  1. Danielle, You came to India!
    The touts can be quite sad & I'm afraid the minute they see a foreigner, they are just out to make their fast buck and commissions. As a conscientious Indian I'm at a loss about what to do about this- it is so embarassing. They do it to us locals when we are travelling as well. Its sad.
    Anokhi, fabIndia and Soma are all great places to pick up beautiful block printed fabric.

  2. Got to see your blog..nice post on Anokhi and other brands...I run a information blog on indian interiors..check