No Grey Area offers bold prints and silhouettes that blend the traditional and the modern
Arnav Malhotra's journey so far has been serendipitous. Despite growing up in a family that has been in the business of fashion for decades (his father has a garment export business and his mother is the founder of multi-designer boutique Evoluzione), becoming part of the industry was not always what he had in mind. Yes, he did work with his mother for a while, but he soon moved to New York City to work at a software start-up. “It turned out to be software that was used in the fashion industry. So I was back in fashion without realising it. But oddly enough, that’s where my love for clothing grew into something much stronger,” shares Chennai-based Arnav, who recently launched his menswear label No Grey Area.
The brand’s aesthetic is informed by the time he spent in New York, where the trend is to buck trends, where individual style is valued and differences are celebrated. “Identity is neither black nor white. Life is often lived in the grey area and that’s what style is... it’s where you stand on the spectrum,” he explains. With No Grey Area, Arnav joins a handful of fashion-forward, experimental menswear labels in India. “This is my attempt to take elements from traditional Indian clothing and contemporarise them for modern palates. And also make them versatile enough for daily wear,” he tells us.
At its core, No Grey Area is print forward, and the prints really draw you in. For instance, in Phantasm, their debut collection or S01E01 as they call it, there are T-shirts, resort shirts, and polos with a single large print of a dragon snaking its way up the shoulder and down the back, phases of the moon against a black and white marbled background and painterly elephants and lions depicting a ‘galactic jungle’, among a host of others. “For Phantasm, we have used icons from Indian mythology in unique ways,” Arnav explains. But the Indianness also comes through in the use of silhouettes like the bandi, which here, is used to create bomber jackets. When paired with the outlandish prints and the gorgeous choice of colours, the results are stunning. When it comes to fabric, the collection uses a mix of Bemberg from Germany, silk, silk-linen and cotton.
“I wanted to create a brand that tells a strong story and I think we have achieved that for now. We hope to continue doing that,” concludes Arnav, who is working on his next collection, which is a commentary on how our generation interacts with social media.
Rs.4,500 upwards. Available online.