Re-invention is the key: Ancestry draws inspiration from India’s design heritage
Future Style Lab’s fashion brand, Ancestry has expanded its retail presence by launching their first outlet in Bangalore. They have been on a mission to re-interpret Indian heritage to cater to the modern woman. Meet Manjula Tiwari, the entrepreneur behind the stylish brand
If you love fabrics spun from textiles, sourced from weavers across the country, in shades of dazzling white, brilliant blue and soft peach, check out Ancestry, the contemporary Indian lifestyle and fashion brand that draws inspiration from India’s design heritage.
So, whether it is a pair of beautifully draped palazzos, a bias-cut crop top or a finely woven dhoti that you are looking for, you will find timelessness and endless beauty in these hand-crafted garments that are designed for those who love history, style and art.
Ancestry is also the place to source organic, ethical and hand-crafted accessories, beauty products and home décor essentials. There are ornate accessories from Rajasthan, splendid pottery from Gujarat, smart home furnishings from New Delhi and so much more. What’s more, the brand increased its retail footprint recently by launching their first store in Bengaluru.
Manjula Tiwari, Founder and CEO of Future Style Lab, who launched Ancestry, is an experienced professional in the field of fashion and lifestyle. In an interaction with YS Weekender, the young entrepreneur spoke about the concept and journey of Ancestry.
As the name suggests, Ancestry takes people back to their roots, cultures, crafts and traditions and their tagline is ‘stories retold’. They reinvent ancient traditions in contemporary styles for the younger generation because Manjula believes that the Indian woman of today is different from her mother’s generation or her grandmother's generation. “Young millennials love their Indian heritage and crafts but the styles are not available in the format that they can adapt to their lifestyle,” she says.
Where it began
Manjula worked with international brands for over 20 years and was a part of setting them up, running them and expanding their reach. But the more she travelled across the world and across the country, the more she felt connected to the roots of India.
She started her career with retail and she stuck to the industry because she fell in love with it.
“I think being in retail gives you so much instant gratification - you take a decision and you immediately know whether it’s working or not working, whereas in any other industry, it's a cycle. The other thing, is that it also allows you to undo your mistakes. So, if you make a mistake you can always learn and try again.”
She worked closely with international brands and e-commerce platforms like Esprit, Benetton, Wills and Lee Cooper, Jabong before launching her own enterprise, Future Style Lab.
As a post graduate in Apparel Merchandising and Marketing from National Institute of Fashion Technology, Delhi, she is also passionate about promoting equal opportunity and gender diversity in the workplace. When home-grown brands became a passion for her, she decided to become an entrepreneur in the fashion and lifestyle space. Her vision for Ancestry it is to create products of great design aesthetic and authentic heritage that can connect today’s consumer with the glories of the past.
Explore the past to understand the present
“India is a very unique country with so many different cultures, languages and cuisines. Weaving and textiles are an inherent part of the culture of the nation. Banaras weaving, Brocade weaving, Indigo dyeing and block printing are only a few of our unique textile weaving techniques. People from across the world have sailed across continents for these fabrics,” she says.
Her team at Ancestry always makes sure their fabrics have an Indian heritage and are global in style.
“Our ancestors left us with an absolutely beautiful legacy and inheritance and we must find ways to incorporate them in the modern world and not relegate them to museums only. But it must change its form because when it doesn’t change its form, it becomes irrelevant to the new generation. We need to reinvent ourselves all the time to stay relevant,” she says.
Crafts for the seasons
Ancestry takes two crafts every season and digs deeply into its history and workmanship.
“We visit the homes of the weavers and we understand the history and the traditions behind the craft and then, we create a unique outfit for Ancestry,” explains Manjula. “We did Jamdani this season, for which, we went to Bardhaman, where Jamdani fabric is traditionally made. The fabrics were so light that we decided to do a collection for summer.”
Ancestry also made a video about the weavers as they felt that their clients would be interested in their stories and want to know where these hand-woven fabrics came from. “Nowadays, we find that more and more young people are very mindful of what they are wearing,” says Manjula.
According to Manjula, fashion in India is really maturing now as women become independent and create their own identity. “I don’t think fashion is frivolous as it is very important for a woman to express herself and look good. Everyone has a different interpretation of fashion but the way a person carries herself or himself tells us a lot about them.”
And, in the future…
Ancestry plans to focus on expanding their range of fabrics and styles and include sarees in their repertoire too. They will be launching their ecommerce portal in October.
Ancestry believes in slow fashion because it is mindful. “During my visit to various ‘Sustainability Weeks’ I got to know about companies who are producing eco-friendly fibres. So, I think one of the big trends in Ancestry is staying sustainable. Also, though our customers like beautiful things, they want to be mindful of the environment at the same time. So, for me, that's the overarching theme going forward,” she says.
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