Although there are quite a few fashion labels in the region who make use of Northeastern fabrics, a few dare to go a step further like Kiniho. Started by the talented Iba Mallai, it is an eco-friendly fashion label that aims to transform weaves into modern chic designs and do their bit for the environment at the same time.
Born into a middle-class family, Iba found herself constantly enamoured by the exquisite colours, traditions and art forms around her. She was always aware of the latest fashion and style trends. Her passion motivated her to pursue a fashion designing course. ‘To me, fashion is not only about wearing trendy clothes but also being environmentally and socially responsible.’ Founded in 2016, fashion label Kiniho follows the same ideology.
‘The label follows a modern approach to traditional handcrafted fabrics, and utilizes environmentally and socially responsible methods of production.’ Eco-fashion labels are really catching up abroad, and, of late, it has slowly and steadily become popular among environment-conscious fashion enthusiasts in India. ‘Increasing poisonous industrial waste that continues to threaten human lives and the environment is one of the reasons why people should be made aware about eco fashion.’ The main idea behind eco-fashion is to produce end products without causing any harm to the environment. This is why Kiniho only makes use of hand-crafted fabrics and natural dyes.
Apart from working to reduce the carbon footprint, Iba is also helping promote and showcase fabrics from the Northeast. ‘Northeast hand weaves have great potential to grow in the market because of the rich look and feel, and unique aesthetics. Promoting our weaves outside the region will help retain the region’s culture and traditional art forms and also increase job opportunities which will in turn help sustain weavers’ livelihood in the rural areas’.
Kiniho’s latest collection revolves around the brand story. The stripes on the fabrics are inspired from the region’s traditional fabric designs and the colour palette has an earthy tone which resembles planet Earth. The collection comprises minimal urban workwear that is chic, elegant and yet muted.
At present, Kiniho is only selling women’s wear but Iba plans to add accessories like bags and shawls very soon. They are in the process of setting up a studio in Shillong. Interested customers can follow their Instagram page and Facebook page for updates on their latest collection looks. You can also mail at Kiniholabel@gmail.com for price and order inquiry.
The journey is just starting for Iba and Kiniho so this year, she plans to work on increasing production and also look for new markets outside the region.
By Meeta Borah
This article was first published in Eclectic Northeast (April 2017) issue