Weaving its way to Met Gala 2023, meet the Kerala brand behind carpet
The off-white Met Gala carpet was manufactured by the Indian brand, Neytt by Extraweave, based in Alleppey, Kerala. This was the second time in a row that it designed the carpet for the fashion event.
Friday May 05, 2023,
5 min Read
Sinuous lines of red and blue snaked their way across the star-studded Met Gala red carpet held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on May 1. Celebrities including Doja Cat, Cardi B, Alia Bhatt, and Priyanka Chopra, among many others, made their way down the carpet with their long trails and intricately beaded dresses, dropping elegance, charm and sophistication at each step.
The off-white carpet’s mesmerising patterns and hypnotic design complemented the glitz and glamour of the annual gala event. It was manufactured by a Made in India brand, Neytt by Extraweave, based in Alleppey in Kerala and hand-painted by local New York City artists. The brand designed the Met Gala carpet for the second time in a row.
“The moment I received the news that we are manufacturing the Met Gala carpet again, I was ecstatic,” Sivan Santhosh, Co-founder of Neytt by Extraweave, tells SocialStory.
Steps to Success
Founded in 2021, Neytt is a high-fashion rug brand established by Santhosh along with his wife, Nimisha. However, the brand’s existence has been years in the making.
Santhosh’s family has been involved in the weaving business for more than 100 years. He took over the baton of the business of rugs, and he gave it a sustainable outlook.
K Velayudhan, his grandfather started The Travancore Mats and Matting Co in 1917. Later his father, Santhosh Velayudhan started Extraweave in 2000. Neytt is the face brand of Extraweave, which is focused on manufacturing.
“I come from a family with over 100 years of experience in the weaving field. Through my brand Neytt, I wish to create sustainable carpets with natural fibres such as sisal and linen, among others,” he adds.
Extraweave has been working in the B2B segment with brands including Restoration Hardware and Ralph Lauren Homes, among others. Neytt too has in its kitty big hotel chains and restaurants such as Taj Exotica in Andaman and Soho House Mumbai, and many others. The brand has been a regular supplier to IKEA and has a B2C channel.
While it employs five in-house designers, Neytt also collaborates with independent artists and designers. The brand’s legacy and work have worked well for the company in building its customer base through word of mouth and Instagram. Neytt, however, will soon set up its ecommerce website.
“The brand has been like my child, and I want to see it reach more heights,” Santhosh says.
All the way to Met Gala
Santhosh recalls that before last year’s Met Gala, he received a call from his long-time customer—Fibreworks Corporation from the US—who wanted a specific rug made out of sisal fibre for a gala event. Since the brand specialises in natural fibre rugs, making the carpet was not an arduous task. However, the team didn't know the rug was for “fashion’s biggest night-out”.
“Fibre Works have been our long-term client, and I initially thought it was for them, however, when I realised that we were making the rug for Met Gala, I was over the moon,” Santhosh rejoices.
In 2022, Met Gala designers switched from traditional wool carpets to natural fibre rugs. The rugs were made out of sisal fibre obtained from the bark of the Agave (cactus) plant typically found in East Africa and Central America.
The “string and sturdy natural fibre” is 120 cm long and can be dyed into any colour and used in any form, such as for floor or wall coverings. The 2023 Met Gala rug is sustainable as the fibre is 100% biodegradable, and also has fire-resilient properties.
The brand usually imports sisal fibre from Brazil and Tanzania. For the Met carpet, it imported the finest quality fibre from Madagascar.
After procuring the raw materials, the fibre is separated and sent for dyeing, and then spun into a yarn. After removing the protruding ends, the yarn is sent to the looms for weaving.
Once the final pieces are ready, small errors are rectified and they are packed after final inspection.
Explaining the manufacturing process, Santhosh added that although the rug was made using machines, it also involved a lot of hand-finishing.
Weaving 58 rolls totalling 6960 sq m, 40 artisans manufactured the carpet in 60 days. He says the artisans who worked on the Met Gala carpet have worked with the brand for 10-15 years.
“They knew that the carpet was for Met Gala but they had no idea about the scale of the event. It was only after they saw it trending on social media that they understood its scale,” Santhosh recalls.
When the stakes are high, the challenges are bigger. The team found it easier to make the last year’s carpet since it was red coloured (which makes it easier to spot errors). However, this year, it was off-white and had to be meticulously made, leaving no room for error.
The off-white scheme was an ode to the German designer Karl Lagerfeld. The carpet was designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Andlaou and weaved in Kerala. The serpentine lines were inspired by the 18th-century English painter William Hogarth who introduced the ‘Line of Beauty’ theory, which states that S-shaped curved lines are more beautiful than straight ones.
“Last year, we had straight lines on the rug, and many people found it dull. As such, this year, the carpet was painted with flowy lines to make it look lively and grab more attention,” Santhosh notes.
He is also overwhelmed by the response received on social media. “We are happy that we could reach the international stage and make our country proud. I hope we continue to do so in the coming years,” he says.
Edited by Kanishk Singh