Masaba Gupta collaborates with Ekaya

Campaign for the Ekaya x Masaba collaboration

Campaign for the Ekaya x Masaba collaboration   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

With Tamil script and a campaign shot around cricket, brand Ekaya and designer Masaba Gupta collaborate to change the image of the Banaras sari

It would have been yet another collaboration if it hadn’t drawn together cricket, Masaba Gupta, and the Banarasi weave. In an Instagram campaign this past week, the designer and Ekaya, the brand that does Banarasi wear, posted pictures of women playing cricket in saris.

The jewel colours and Gupta’s signature big-motif designs stand out against an almost sepia-toned backdrop. They draw attention to the women running, strategising, batting or cheering — never posing, always challenging the norm of how a sari should be worn and how a woman should behave when she’s wearing one. Each picture is labelled — Hit Wicket Heroines, Pleats on the Pitch, for instance. “It’s about breaking stereotypes,” says Palak Shah, Ekaya’s founder, who spent her formative years amongst the thaans (fabric rolls) in her family’s Banarasi fabric business.

Masaba, on her part, “decided to show the sari in its full movement and flow, without any of the restriction that is often associated with it. Banarasi saris, or in fact handloom, are often associated with seriousness; we wanted to change the notion set around it,” she says.

Designer Masaba Gupta

Designer Masaba Gupta   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

With the campaign, she seems to have drawn together two areas of interest. With her father Viv Richards’ contribution to the game, cricket is “very close to my heart” she says. Plus there was the recognition that women shy away from wearing a sari. “We decided to take it on to the pitch and smash stereotypes attached with the game as well as saris.”

Quirk in the weave

In its seventh year now, Ekaya does one partnership a year, with brands as diverse as PlayClan, Abraham and Thakore, and Archana Rao. “Masaba is known for her prints, so we were curious about how she would translate it,” says Shah, adding that every collaboration targets a different set of people. This time, it’s meant to appeal to a young audience apprehensive about wearing a sari just about anywhere, as women a couple of generations ago did.

Shah herself says she’s comfortable wearing the six yards, working in it, and even sitting around the house in it, but does wish that more women would adopt it as everyday wear. “We’re probably the only country in the world that still wears our national dress daily,” she says.

In terms of her own learning, Masaba discovered that it was difficult to weave intricate animal motifs and lettering into the rich fabric, compared to simply printing them. “The motifs are a personification of the quirk our brand is known for. For the collection, we drew inspiration from vintage matchbox art and Indian scriptures. The animal motifs are a House of Masaba classic, one of our many iconic elements,” she says over an email interview.

Palak Shah, founder, Ekaya

Palak Shah, founder, Ekaya   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Outward bound

The quirk sits large: Tamil script across saris that reads ‘Tamil’, a grey nib on gold-coated copper zari, pomegranates in silver, a humped bull in a black spot on a blood-orange sari. There are about 45 pieces: saris, lehenga sets and ready-to-wear garments (dhotis, capes), in different colour palettes.

The work has been carried out in the phekwa or cutwork tradition that involves cutting the threads of the zari around the design, at the back, so that it doesn’t weight down the garment.

It’s these little details that Shah doesn’t want to lose. Last year, she took Indian textile to the Paris Fashion Week’s Project Cousu d’Or, where 15 designers from around the world used 18 different fabrics from Ekaya to make wedding gowns.

Her ultimate endeavour is to take Ekaya overseas to an international audience, rather than Indians abroad, a sort of India-modern. She sees it as the first luxury brand “where the craft is Indian but the look and feel international, just as long as it’s getting made in India”.

Lehengas between ₹65,000 and ₹70,000; saris between ₹32,000 and ₹43,000; ready-to-wear between ₹30,000 and ₹45,000. Available online at and, and offline in both Delhi stores

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 2:19:11 PM |

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