Turquoise — The Store experiments with cork and hand-block prints for their new accessory collection
When you pick up a piece of clothing from the Chennai brand Turquoise — The Store, you buy into the generational legacy of the Jetpur village in Gujarat, and the first industrial mill for ajrakhs textile set up by Gordhandas Karsanji Bosamia in 1947. However, it isn’t the history of the brand that has the city talking. As of February, Turquoise is now among a handful of brands from the country, and the second in Chennai that works with 100 per cent natural cork fabric. “The move comes purely from the need to innovate,” offers Harsh Bosamia, co-founder of the brand.
This is not the label’s maiden attempt at sustainability. Taking measured and gradual steps, Harsh and Riddhi (wife and co-founder) initially began by phasing out screen prints with hand-block prints, chemical dyes with organic floral hues and repurposing the water from their manufacturing unit for agricultural purposes. “Honestly, I have always loved leather accessories. But, after having made the decision to be more sustainable and conscious about the products we create, it did not feel right to continue using and working with leather,” shares Riddhi, as she shows us the last two pairs of fabric leather shoes in their store’s inventory.
A project that has been in the works for almost two years, Turquoise sources their cork in the form of grains from Portugal. The raw material is then melted in their manufacturing unit in India and made into sheets, which in turn forms the base material. “It took us a while to understand how the material folds and bends, and its tensile strength. Some of our early prototypes from the handbag section were either too heavy or started breaking at the corners near the folds,” she says. Once the model markups were perfected, Turquoise then added their ajrakh to the accessories.
Launching their cork line with a range of totes, cross-body slings, clutches, wallets and notebook holders, the motifs include hand-cut filigree patterns over a multicoloured fabric inlay, shoulder straps featuring hand-blocked fabrics and ajrakh lining. “We upcycle and recycle our fabric waste to create our collections. What we waste is made into details and textures that are added to our products. This also allows us to retain the original colour of the cork and show off its natural finish,” Riddhi explains.
More the merrier
Apart from the fashion add-ons, Turquoise also has yoga mats, exercise blocks, tea coasters that are lined with natural rubber that is procured from Kerala. “The yoga mats came about by sheer coincidence during the preliminary stage. We then decided to extend the range by creating yoga blocks as well.” Created as mats of two and three-millimetre thickness, these fitness products also bear distinct hand-block prints of the brand.
With a larger array of products in the pipeline, sneakers for toddlers, table placemats and lampshades are the next expected releases, and will be available at the store by the end of March.
Yoga mats start at Rs 2,100. Totes at Rs 2,500 onwards.