Tired of the same old monochromatic clothes? Looking for something different? A pop of color or a burst of print perhaps? Even better, addition of some quirky prints to liven up your wardrobe? If that is what you seek and are tired of the cookie cutter retail stores in your nearest strip mall, then you have come to the right place, er.. post. In this blog post, I will be showcasing something different, i.e. four online Indian retailers who have made a name for themselves internationally by selling products which are a modern twist to being Indian, are true to the ethos of the motherland and will light up your wardrobe or home with their touch of Indian kitsch, pop of color, whimsy and charm. I have personally purchased from all of these websites, right here from the United States and urge you to take a look some of their amazing work and philosophy behind their products. All of these companies are based out of India and are run by Indians and are totally worth checking out. So without further ado, here are some of them:
Online Indian Retailers #1 PLAY CLAN
True to its name, Play clan showcases a riot of colors, funky patterns and above all a slice of India through its products which include apparel (men/women/kids), accessories and home decor. It is a well respected online Indian retail store and ships to USA free for purchases over $100! (shipping is free worldwide as per their website). My favorite dress, which I wore in Seville, and which makes heads turn (the only time people stop to compliment me) is from here and it is a beautiful shift dress showcasing its theme “animals and humans” straight out of Rajasthan in print and embroidery. My only advise would be to not buy anything fragile from their website since their packaging is not that great for fragile products-I got a mug one time and it came broken in a zillion pieces, but their customer service was very responsive and compensated me with a gift voucher. My experience with play clan has been great and I highly recommend checking them out either online or in one of their brick and mortar stores if you are in India!
Online Indian Retailers # 2 RED PATANG
OK, in all fairness, this online Indian retailer is based out of USA, but it is owned and operated by Indians missing stuff they grew up on back on the mothership and thus Red Patang (red Kite) was born. They partner with Indian brands and sell those products in USA at reasonable prices and make them accessible to people like us who are lovers of color and whimsy. A lot of their products such as comics will give you a huge bout of nostalgia since many of us grew up on them and find it next to impossible to scour for the next generation kiddies growing up here. Also, they partner majorly with a fun Indian brand named Chumbak (Hindi for Magnet) who sell fun, India inspired home utility stuff and of course magnets! I have purchased two containers which are seriously a riot of colors and spoof Indian stereotypes (see one here) and proudly store my tea collection, snacks and breakfast cereal in these sturdy pieces. They are also an instant hit with visiting guests! I also have cable organizing twisties, cushion covers (they are wickedly punny and showcase Indian pop culture and mannerisms) and fun magnets from Chumbak ordered via Red Patang. Check their website out for more fun stuff to spice up your home.
Online Indian Retailers # 3 NO NASTIES
Drum rolls please for this online Indian retailer selling everything cotton and baby smooth to touch with only one thing on their mind: 100% ethical, 100% fair-trade. Thus the name, no nasties. No hanky-panky, no murky middlemen, no suffering to the environment, people or animals. Started by bad-ass Mumbai residents and young guns Apurva and Diti, No nasties makes the softest tees-guaranteed. I practically lived in them in the sweltering humidity of Puerto Rico and love, love, love them! They do provide shipping to USA (at a very reasonable price of $17-$30 per 2-3/10 garments, that is “reasonable” when you think of the international shipping and taxes imposed, plus the product is not coming in from mass produced sweat shops). They have now partnered with DHL, a courier service for expedited shipping but they are extremely responsive by email and so you can always shoot them your queries regarding shipping fee and other stuff that may make you feel jittery since it is being shipped from 1000s of miles away! Here are their FAQs covered on fair trade. I bought my tees from them a good 4 years ago, but now they have branched out into dresses, skirts and apparel for men. Do visit their website if you get a chance and you will not be disappointed!
Online Indian retailers # 4 STYLISTA
This has been a recent find, but I have had a great experience with them (prompt shipping, responsive over the phone and beautifully packaged apparel) and am thus recommending them. This is a Mumbai based fashion retail house who ship to USA, but the best part is that they stock creations from a few Indian designers at very affordable price points. By Indian designers, I do not mean those who would like to drown you in a sea of embroidered trousseau, but those who design chic functional every day clothes for the urban woman, such as the quirky Indian prints of young designer Masaba Gupta! I got this beautiful shirt (see below, image from Stylista.com) from their website which arrived within a week in a beautiful cardboard box with a hand written thank you note! These small touches totally show their commitment to customers and I am truly appreciative of that. Most of their “designer” clothes are on sale (a rarity) and I recommend them as affordable alternatives to the way pricier websites looting you in the name of Indian designer ware.
Online Indian Retailers #5 and #6
Finally, I would like to give a shoutout to two other favorite brands of mine, peddling the best in Indian funk and kitsch and are none other than Happily Unmarried and Item Number. Loud, brass and unapologetic, their quirky home products (Happily Unmarried) and heavy doses of Bollywood inspired accessories (Item Number, hot pink bag with rad zebra stripes) will brighten up you day with smiles and colors. Unfortunately, neither have international shipping and Item number retails only through brick and mortar stores. Do visit them if you are in India and get fun gifts for friends and family world wide!
I hope this blot post has given you some fodder for off-kilter gifts and purchases and helped to showcase the fun, creative side of India. An India that makes fun of itself yet showcases its cultural aspects and mundaneness of life so effectively, beautifully and with a sense of humor. In India that pays homage to its roots in a contemporary fashion and shows the world how to celebrate the stereotypes and the labels. I hope you have fun shopping and adding some Indian quirkiness to your lives. As always, these opinions are based on my experiences; please read the FAQs carefully and make your purchases to have a pleasant shopping experience. Read my other post on the slow fashion movement here.
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