Shyamal Shodhan -Traditional Grandeur

They are one of the more formidable names when it comes to Indian bridal wear in India today—Shymal & Bhumika have become household names for the modern Indian bride who still loves her roots. Their store on Peddar Road in Mumbai is one of the most gorgeous bridal boutiques in India, with its Gujarati haveli feel. Mesmerising with mirrors, carved ceiling, and chains, the store stuns and almost appears as a museum. This month, we catch up with one half of the design duo to learn more about their work process.

Have you always been into bridal wear?
I used to weave fabrics in Hyderabad and create prêt collections. But after seeing Bhumika’s graduation show for NIFT—the collection of which consisted of a lot of real zari work—we suddenly started getting known for wedding couture, and in India that is a very big segment for fashion designers. Prêt could be sold through stores and is more of a business, but couture is more of a passion. Prêt requires a lot of business skills which one may or may not have. Bhumika and I are good at creating one-of-a kind garments and that’s what people want for their wedding attire. Hence, a lot of people come to us for it, and we absolutely love it.

Tell us some of the interesting things you have come across from brides that you’ve worked with.
We as a label have grown into several geographic territories, both in India and abroad. We have second generation of south Asian communities appreciating our brand. And because they don’t know much about what’s happening in India, they don’t have exposure to the really amazing work going on. But they connect with our aesthetic, which is very modern yet uses a lot of craft, and is versatile. So, it’s very interesting to meet different people who’re doing different things. All the brides are multi faceted; some are in Africa, US, England... It is great fun understanding a bride’s personality and designing something for them which suits their occasion and decor profile.

We imagine the bride in her setting and create something for her.

How is the partnership between Bhumika and you?
Since we are two people, there’s a mix of ideas and tastes. Bhumika loves traditional things yet is very western in her outlook, but her colour combinations are so unique that only a bold and eclectic person can understand it. I have a more modern, single colour sort of a taste. So it is a good combination.

With so many avenues to shop for the modern Indian bride, how do you remain at the forefront with other big brands that are equally popular?
We are at the forefront, so we are doing something right. Brides have been able to associate with the modern taste and aesthetic that Bhumika and I have been credited for. There is a connection somewhere so that’s great. We love doing intricate hand embroidery which people really enjoy wearing. The patience, dedication, and love we have for creating these pieces results in amazing work that all brides appreciate.

With young women ubiquitously using social media, are Indian brides in the north/south and other parts of the world really all that different today?
Brides that we cater to have a global mindset, so those brides are the same around the world. Only their custom dictates a particular type of colour, sleeve length or neckline, and we custom make those for them. Our bride is so active on social media that she is the same, more or less, all over the world and by following us over a period, she has woven into our design philosophy.
We come out with one global line and one Indian line every year. Ironically, people in India crave the global line and people abroad like more traditional pieces.

How important is it for you to participate in wedding shows?
It is important because we get a chance to interact with lots of customers who have been wanting to meet us for a while. Our intention is to let people get a feel of the clothes, try them on and see how it looks. It automatically converts to business and works well for us (smiles).                           – as told to Suneela