Couturier Rahul Mishra on his new easy-to-wear brand Afew, how it incorporates future trends and new-age concepts
Last month at Palais de Tokyo, the visionary designer debuted his remarkable ethos to a broader audience with the launch of Afew Rahul Mishra, his new easy-to-wear line in partnership with Reliance
His mission is clear: to utilise fashion as a tool for community empowerment and participation, with a particular focus on the rich local craft traditions of India. With his eponymous label, which boasts two flagship stores in India and a thriving national and international distribution network, Rahul Mishra has sown his share of seeds of sustainability within the fashion industry. From making history as the first Indian to grace the Paris Haute Couture Week to seeing global celebrities like Gigi Hadid, Zendaya and Selena Gomez walking down the red carpet in his designs, Rahul continues to shape the landscape of the industry, only this time — proving that couture is not reserved solely for the rarefied world of high fashion. Last month at Palais de Tokyo, the visionary designer debuted his remarkable ethos to a broader audience with the launch of Afew Rahul Mishra, his new easy-to-wear line in partnership with Reliance Brands.
“Afew is an acronym for air, fire, earth, water and it also somehow looks at the idea of creating ‘a few’ clothes, creating ‘a few’ ideas and ‘a few’ philosophies, which are borrowed from couture at the same time. While one may be fascinated by couture, wearing a heavily embroidered couture piece is limited to certain occasions. That is where Afew Rahul Mishra comes into the play and allows one a few more occasions to wear our curations,” Rahul Mishra begins by introducing us to the concept of the brand.
With the intention of being more inclusive and accessible, Afew is composed of all the natural elements that come together to create a few more occasions in one’s life to experience the couture sensibilities in their everyday lives. This line harmoniously fuses his Indian heritage with a global perspective holding a mirror to the couturier’s vision of offering luxurious, effortlessly wearable clothing tailored for the modern woman. “With more than two decades of experience participating in fashion shows across Paris and India, I attempt to understand future trends and new-age concepts that align with our design sensibilities. Our easy-to-wear pieces are crafted for day as well as evening wear,” he adds.
When asked about how Reliance Brands hopped on board, he says, “Afew featuring a line-up of versatile separates caters to a new-age audience with a strong sense of personal style. And a ready-to-wear brand requires a great deal of attention, a supportive team, a strong infrastructure and an accessible supply chain and as we were ready to get back to it after working solely towards couture, we are glad to have a strong force like Reliance Brands join us in this exciting journey.”
Despite his label’s trajectory towards becoming India’s homegrown billion-dollar brand, the designer remains committed to introducing everyday staples that can be teamed up with existing wardrobe seamlessly, adding a sense of individuality to each piece. Adding to the same, Rahul states, “The design processes for ready-to-wear and couture are extremely different. Couture is very conceptual in terms of its application, art and techniques. While, when it comes to ready-to-wear, our primary focus is on the wear-ability, maintenance, wash care, versatility and functionality of the pieces. Couture demands a lot more care in terms of packaging, wash care and overall maintenance.”
“Amongst a sea of easy-to-wear brands, we are presenting an easy-to-wear brand that is rooted in natural, lightweight fabrics and textiles. Unlike couture, one does not have to wait for an occasion to wear our pieces. The first collection draws inspiration from a few ideas and design sensibilities that we believe in. Adding elements that give life to our pieces, the debut edit incorporates nature’s essence through floral motifs, jungle-inspired prints and the majestic Himalayas,” the couturier reveals. The collection tells a story of how impressionism meets pop art and explores various ideas that come together to create the brand’s DNA by exploring concepts that trace the evolution of the universe. “Over the course of a year, this collection took shape, with each piece possessing a distinct element. Our aim was not to focus on a singular idea; instead, we aspired for our collection to embody a poetic and artistic essence,” he elaborates.
With an extensive number of more than 120 pieces, the label’s idea is to not only offer complete looks but also feature a range of separates in vibrant hues like lime green and lilac, all the while remaining true to classic black and white. “The gender-fluid collection has no restrictions in terms of styling. Striking the right balance between modern tailoring and craftsmanship, our collection amalgamates the two concepts in a subdued manner,” the designer shares. And he achieves this through exquisite hand embroidery, embellishments like sequins, embroidery, patches, ruffles and hand-pleating, ensuring that even T-shirts can withstand the rigour of the wash cycle. “Coming to the fabric selection, our pieces are set in natural textiles, which are carefully picked for their breath-ability factors and easy maintenance. For the debut collection, we have worked around fine-quality cotton oil, cotton knit, organza, silk, cotton pop, satin silk and satin organza. Additionally, we offer select pieces in neoprene as required,” he says.
Notable designs include T-shirts adorned with carnation embroidery, scenic prints and hand embellished; shirts detailed with a poplin collar, layered scallops and gradient sequins; double-breasted jacket with silk satin organza ruffles; trousers and skirts boasting sequin work over prints and flare, layered tulle and side pleats; and dresses featuring oversized printed lantern sleeves, multi-colored pleated stripes, oversized shirt finished with floral embroidered cuffs and chest patch details. That’s not all, the launch collection of this new label comes with icing on the cake — accessories. Under this category, fashion aficionados can grab leather footwear in black designed with floral hand embroidery, kauna grass bags sporting jungle theme embroidery and multi-coloured thread fringes and 18k gold plated jewellery with both their hands, all for a reasonable price. Although there aren’t many options when it comes the first two, the latter has a wider range in comparison. Expect a bouquet of rings, bangles, pendants, ear crawlers and handcuffs in koi fish, jellyfish and beetle-shaped range ornate with light Colorado topaz and the pear drop crystal while the floral and tropical pieces come in a variety of forms featuring elements like exquisite flora, toucan bird and palm leaves studded with amethyst, emerald, ruby and round crystals.
Moving on from Afew, we lastly asked the designer about his plans in the pipeline, to which he answered, “We are currently working on our next couture collection and styling international and Indian celebrities. Also, I am looking to expand my design horizons by venturing into the role of an architect by building a house in the hills of the Himalayas, a place I share a deep connection with. I believe that design in any form enriches my thinking and expands possibilities for me to create more. In the coming months, we are focusing on expanding our retail presence through stores in Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad as well as international stores in high fashion streets of the world.”
INR 22,000 onwards. Available online.