Anokhi means "outstanding" in English, and at least this once the name suits the contents down to the ground. Anokhi is a unique brand of clothes and home accessories, and has for more than thirty years stayed faithful to - and developed - the traditions only recently discovered by the global western fashion business: the philosophy of the brand is a symbiosis of ancient traditions and socially conscious business.
The Anokhi story is more than thirty years old, and it started when a designer, descendent of Irish missionaries who had decided to return to her roots after years of European prosperity, and an Oxford-educated heir of a maharaja family fortuitously happened to run into each other in a swimming pool of an Indian hotel. Today Anokhi, the family business of Faith and John Singh, has conquered a place of its own in the American and European markets; the couple's children are also working at the family firm.
Anokhi is special in that the collections are designed using a 12th century technique - block printing, a method very similar to silk screening, which involves transferring ornaments to fabric by means of carved wood blocks. The preparation of a single teak block for work is a matter of several hours. When that's done, fabric is stretched on a special table and the printing may begin. The length of the process depends on the number of colours involved: one block may be used to transfer only one colour. Only natural plant-derived dyes and organic cotton are used for the printed fabric, lovingly adorned with motifs of nature and traditional Rajasthani ornaments. The design of the clothes is an incarnation of the brand's history - a unique symbiosis of Indian and western cultures, thereby adding a special flavour to the Anokhi production.
Everything you will find there, from home textiles to adults' and children's clothing, is handmade; therefore each piece is in a way unique. Each of the Anokhi items of clothing comes with a label explaining the history of its making and the best way of caring for it. And, instead of building yet another modern factory, Anokhi chooses to avail of small workshops in tiny Jaipur villages, the way it has been for centuries. This way the natural environment of the culture and local traditions are preserved and the welfare of the more than 200 Anokhi workers is taken care of (they are guaranteed free medical care, transport and education for their children). When the design is ready, samples are sent to local craftsmen and -women who dye and print the fabric; the final process of cutting and sewing takes place in a small production unit not far from Jaipur.
Indians speak of Anokhi with pride; spend a couple of weeks in India and your newly-trained eye will spot that quite a few members of ancient royal families are sporting the brand's designs. Anokhi has managed more than nourishing and reviving the age-old traditions; the company is one of the most genuine patriots of Indian cultural heritage. India used to be one of the world's giants of textile industry, being especially famous for its naturally-dyed fabrics. Globalisation has done its dirty deed: the majority of fabrics available in India today are synthetically-dyed.
Besides, Anokhi is one of the few brands (another one is Soma, but the choice is not as tempting in this case) to make loyalty to ancient traditions its philosophy and greatest strength in one. Anokhi has five stores in different Indian cities; the largest one in Delhi carries a special limited edition collection of Anokhi clothes. You just have to visit the Anokhi stores, if only to get rid of a couple of stereotypes of India.
2 Tilak Road, Jaipur
City Palace, Udaipur
Khan Market, Delhi
Keywords: Rajasthan, shop, clothing, accesories, Jaipur, Udaipur