Inaki’s summer line of accessories gives the traditional handwoven koodai basket an edgy update

The colour palette also offers an interesting array of shades, making use of hues like teal, brown and even neon

Rebecca Vargese Published :  26th June 2020 06:00 AM   |   Published :   |  26th June 2020 06:00 AM
Inaki bags

Inaki bags

Nostalgia and the memory of growing up around her grandmother have been a central source of inspiration for Chennai-based designer Lakshmi Subramanian. Probably why one of the first product designs the former Computer Science engineer dabbled with, when she launched her brand Inaki in the latter part of 2019, was the wire koodai bag — a ubiquitous staple in Tamil Nadu. Though the self-taught designer then went on to unveil a clothing line of handloom cotton saris, blouses and dresses with delicate thread embroidery as part of the Nature series, the 38-year-old is now revisiting those initial designs for her latest accessory collection. “I remember watching my grandmother knotting these bags when I was a kid, and I would use them to carry my lunch to school. I think for many of us who grew up in Tamil Nadu, especially in the late ’80s and ’90s, this was a common experience,” offers Lakshmi. 

Mixed bag

Released just before the lockdown was enforced, the collection of totes, clutches and sling purses feature weaving patterns like Madras checks and stripes as their motifs. The colour palette also offers an interesting array of shades, making use of hues like teal, brown and even neons, apart from the traditional blues and purples. However, what makes the accessories stand out (besides its silhouettes) is the use of the wire loop clasps and fastenings that secure the bags, and the addition of pouches and division compartments throughout the line. Though these elements are high on functionality, they also throw some style into the mix — elevating the commonplace koodai into something chic. “Basket weaving is a traditional handicraft form that is slowly dwindling. With proper design interventions, they can be made into contemporary accessories,” shares Lakshmi, adding that each of the bags is woven by women artisans in Tiruchirappalli.


Sneak peek

Sharing a teaser of what one can expect from her next line, Lakshmi says that the collection is hinged on the concept of upcycling. “We have used deadstock, factory excess and even export rejects in the collection. The silhouettes are inspired by the 1960s — tubular cuts, straight lines, waistless shifts — relaxed clothing.” Keep a lookout for easy-to-wear dresses, crop tops featuring patchwork and applique detailing. 


Back to basics
While the pandemic has definitely put a dent in this city-based entrepreneur’s plans and delayed the launch of her upcoming clothing collection, the break has given Lakshmi time to introspect the ethics upon which her brand was built. “Reviving dying traditional textiles, arts and crafts from the region are a major impetus for us as a brand. But, ideas of sustainability, fair wages and following zero-waste practices are equally important.” In tow, she has deferred the launch of her next clothing line. Instead, she has put up her S/S ’20 accessory collection of bags and clutches, along with a capsule sample of necklaces made from upcycled textile (fabric scraps from the upcoming line) for a special sale. “Sale for a Cause goes on until the end of this month, and a percentage of the proceeds from the sales will go towards feeding families affected by the pandemic through a non-profit called Give India.”

Bags priced at Rs 1,800 onwards. Necklaces from Rs 700 upwards.