Weaving modern stories off ancient tales

As I entered Tulsi Farms nestled in a quaint corner of South Delhi, the sun was setting on Nicobar studio. Walking through grand old trees and passing by a studio buzzing with designers, I was ushered into a small room with glass walls, bursting—albeit aesthetically—with pieces from Nicobar’s home, travel and clothing lines. A rooftop glass window caught the sunrays, ricocheting off mute-coloured products. The setting held a resemblance to the brand’s stores in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru, spaces frequented by the young and restless.

“Nicobar has a tropical feel, a reflection of the island it takes its name from. It is a contemporary take on cultures and crafts,” Arya Nerker, the design head of Nicobar’s home line says.She, along with Aparna Chandra, design head for clothing, and Divya Kapoor, who heads the travel section, manage to translate inconspicuous inspirations into tangible art. A single colour can be turned into a collection, like their latest Japan-inspired line, which is all things red. But there is nothing ‘arty’ or ‘heavy’ about Nicobar products.

“We mean to fit into anyone’s everyday wardrobe, make our way into homes and travel with modern day wanderers,” Kapoor says. There are flowy fabrics tailored into easy silhouettes. Intricate motifs, flora and fauna find their way to the tableware and furnishings. Bags and pouches are functional and arresting in equal measure. Ideas flow freely from all direction at Nicobar, something that Co-founders Simran Lal (daughter of Good Earth’s founder Anita Lal) and Raul Rai instilled in their team they built since its inception.
This one-year-old brand may have the same fundamental values as its parent company, Good Earth, but the people behind Nicobar insist that it has its own expression. “We were conscious of the inevitable comparisons, but we never paid much heed nor tried too hard to stand out. Nicobar has its own language that speaks for itself,” Chandra says.

The price point, the team claims, is a giveaway. The clothes are priced at Rs 1,350-11,500. The price for home collections starts at Rs 450 (small tableware) and goes on to Rs 10,500 (for bed linen). The travel collections are priced between Rs 350 and Rs 7,500. Targeted to tap into the urban shopper demographics, it has a strong digital presence too (nicobar.com). The fact that Nicobar’s aesthetics are untouched by Good Earth (that completed 21 years in 2017) was reiterated several times during our conversation.

Good Earth looks within India for inspiration. Nicobar, on the other hand, is inspired by journeys taken on the ancient trade routes like the silk, spice or perfume routes. In the same series, the brand will look towards China and Sri Lanka for inspiration in the coming months.While the sampling is done in-house, the team works with kaarigars from across India, who by now understand the brand’s story.

Story as it appeared