City-based Viari goes for a global appeal through a tie-up with designer Silas Grant

The heart of Chennai acquires the soul of London. Neon greens and powder pinks meet classic styles while the staple blacks and elegant tans take on a more chic avatar. And where does this happen? At Viari, the recently inaugurated store on R.K Salai. The Chennai-based brand has designs by London-based designer Silas Grant. Although the collaboration with the English designer and the launch of the flagship store is fairly recent, the brand has been around for 23 years now.

Started by Vidhu and Arijeet Purkayastha in the late 1980s, Viari first began as a manufacturer and exporter of leather goods. “The company made bags and accessories for other international brands such as Armani and Levi’s among others. In 2012, we decided that given the kind of expertise and experience why not develop a range for the Indian market,” says Abhyuday Purkayastha, brand manager, Viari. That’s when Grant was roped in. “We chose Grant because we liked the quintessential English look his designs have,” adds Abhyuday. A graduate of Central Saint Martins, London, Grant has been designing mobile phones, sunglasses, watches and bags ever since 1997. He has also designed for Nokia.

Talking about his association with Viari, Grant says, “I met  Arijeet in London and was impressed with his knowledge about the industry. I was also struck by the quality of the goods they made, and the pleasant working environment. I am quite choosy about who I work with but partnering with Viari has been an excellent experience.” He defines the brand as fresh with a global appeal.

Viari currently has five collections: Berkeley — characterised by satchels in vibrant colours, Soho that’s targeted at professionals and includes spacious bags in a palette ranging from bright orange to conservative dark blue, Manhattan Man and Woman, their fashion forward range that come with an interesting fold in and fold out pattern and Outback which comprises vintage-styled outdoorsy bags that are water repellent and crafted in canvas and leather. Each of them have clean cuts, and come with a mirror, key holders and compartments that are gadget friendly. Accessories such as belts, wallets, eyeglass covers, passport holders, clutches and coin purses are also available.

The inspiration for these collections is drawn from the many places as their names suggest. “We wanted to bring clean contemporary design to the often ‘over designed’ accessories market. The designs take on the aspirations and dreams of the people,” adds Grant.

Over the last few years, bags have suddenly become an essential accessory to flaunt. “I think it is about reflecting who you are. If people want to show their individual style, a bag is a great way to do this,” he says.

And what’s Viari’s next line going to be? “It will be a fun line. We will be developing the pared back style, our focus will be on bold statement silhouettes and developing some incredible new leather finishes and treatments and unusual juxtapositions of materials.”