Finally, top-tier designers cross economic lines to create clothes for budget-conscious label lovers at Evolv

What? An Abraham & Thakore shirt with subtle detailing for Rs. 3,700? A slinky cocktail dress in hot pink by design duo Rohit Gandhi and Rahul Khanna for Rs. 7,000? A cropped top with fun twists by the ‘Not So Serious' Pallavi Mohan for Rs. 3,000? Play Clan's whimsical curios for Rs. 2,000?

Well, top notch designers cross economic lines and create clothes for a brand new concept store called Evolv. Though located in the Luxury Wing of Express Avenue, Evolv hopes to make the premium affordable, without diluting the core of the labels. “We don't want the Zaras of the West to take over,” says Atul Malhotra, the man behind Evolv.

Having made a name for himself in the luxury segment through the Evoluzione chain, Malhotra is now keen on making high fashion accessible to more people. In essence, Evolv is entry-luxe. It fills the void between mid-market and luxury. And, looks for less doesn't mean compromises. “Design and quality are the critical selling points. They can't be undermined in our attempt to reach out to a bigger market. With the invasion by more foreign brands, we will gradually lose our identity. We have a rich pool of design talent in India. By making them cater for a new market, we can still retain and nurture our own identity. Though their creations smack of global appeal, they also have an inimitable touch of Indianness,” says Malhotra.

Evolv features an array of labels — from the quirky Manish Arora and the understated Rajesh Pratap Singh to the playful Sanchita and notice-me Malini Ramani. Other names include Rohit Bal, Jason Anshu, Rahul Reddy and Namrata Joshipura. Also on display is a host of accessory labels — contemporary jewellery by Suhanie Pittie, headphones by Skull Kandy and a special line of shoes by Language for Evolv and Melissa from Brazil.

Play Clan's section transports you to another world where it's famous ‘clan of clones' takes over. The seemingly repetitive motifs in a burst of vivid Indian hues give the handmade curious, diaries, T-shirts, cushions and CD cases an unusual look. The line customised for Evolv speaks of tradition. It draws reference from the temples of South India.

As a concept, Evolv's over-a-year gestation period involved intensive research into retail patterns. “It's about taking shopping to the next level and taking pride in what we stand for. The store is targeted at young people who are sadly developing a Westernised sense of identity. We want them to appreciate domestic labels and aesthetics. So obviously, the pricing has been taken care of. The Evolv price tags range from Rs. 500 for gift articles to Rs. 8, 500 for glamorous clothes. All the top designers who have associated themselves with us for this concept store will design exclusively for our lines. To give it a lifestyle experience, an iPod station and a magazine counter have also been added.”

Evolv is distinct not just for its concept, but the space design as well. The light-flooded store in an interesting white-purple-indigo scheme reflects the less-is-more aesthetic of architect-interior designer Vikram Phadke. There's an interesting play of graphics by New Delhi based Illum that lends a dynamic touch to design.

Evolv in Express Avenue is the first in the concept chain that will be launched in other metros.