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Majestic Jaipur

Trunks come full circle: into the world of handcrafted luggage

How first-generation entrepreneurs Paritosh and Priyank Mehta are getting royals, internet tycoons and Bollywood to line up for their handcrafted luggage

December 08, 2017 03:27 pm | Updated December 11, 2017 04:10 pm IST

Over the last six years, brothers Paritosh and Priyank Mehta have been designing trunks for rifles, stilettos, watches, a DJ console and precious bottles of Louis XIII cognac. In a few months, you could tuck a miniature version of these trunks under your arm, reimagined as a clutch. With gold hardware, studded with semi-precious stones and priced at over ₹3,00,000, it is just one of many surprises being planned for Trunks Company loyalists. They range from members of erstwhile royal families of India to tech billionaires and Bollywood princesses. But it is not to discuss illustrious clients that the brothers have invited us to their atelier in Jaipur’s Kartapura Industrial Area, hours before the official launch of their boutique at the iconic Rambagh Palace.

Lambskin diaries

Skipping through the fairy tale narrative — they began as furniture exporters, chanced upon leather trunks as an alternative, and went on to design for Christian Louboutin, Remy Martin and others — Paritosh, 33, points to their blue and coral brand colours. And their logo. It has been inspired by Amber Fort’s jaali work, which dates back to 1727. One room showcases the evolution of their hardware — with framed sentinels, brass wheels, locks and so on. In another, where a selection of handsome trunks feature imported leather from Italy, suede and supple lambskin from Chennai, and rivets from France, a jewellery safe, the colour of slate, opens to reveal 16 trays in burgundy suede. The smaller watch trunks are like jewel boxes, with canary yellow and fuchsia lambskin interiors. “They are full of colour, and this is what Jaipur is about,” he says.

Personality test

Comparisons with other luxury malletiers, like Louis Vuitton, Goyard and Moynat, all with a rich travel heritage, are inevitable. But as Paritosh puts it, “With them, you are buying into their personality. You can only select from what they offer.” The Mehtas are open to requests for trunks to store shoes, polo or cricket gear, butterflies, coins, or whatever else suits your fancy. Bespoke orders are limited to two each month. If it is from their regular collection, 10 is the limit. “We don’t want to spread ourselves too thin,” says the ever-cautious Paritosh. Fair enough, with a medium trunk taking 40-180 days to make.

When I remark upon a poker trunk, with plush compartments for cards, poker chips, money, cigars, two glasses, and wheels, I learn there’s more: a recent order, a ‘card party’ trunk, will accommodate all the games you need, from backgammon to poker and chess. Another all-nighter special is the cabinet bar trunk, fitted with a fridge and a wine cellar!

Paritosh talks about a pen trunk they created for 800 writing instruments, that included compartments for paper rolls, cartridges, and a small tray that doubled as a workstation. “We took five months for it, with casts in wood and metal,” he says, leading us into yet another room, this one filled with craftsmen hunched over Jack industrial sewing machines, and bright red cutting and pasting tables. Here we get busy juggling pigments and playing with brushes, sponges and cloth rags, as a quick lesson on creating a beautiful patina on leather begins. It hints at a new line, and a wider range of colours, perhaps, at Trunks Company.

In good company

Paritosh is proud to admit that he has succeeded, despite having no formal design background. Ever since Parisian designer Livio Delesgues, part of the founding team, left a couple of years ago, the brand does not promote individual designers. “We all work selflessly for the brand,” he says. Preferring a simple lifestyle, at odds with that of his clients, he confesses that it is merely work that drives him. Later that evening at Rambagh Palace, when Jaipur’s swish set arrives for the official launch of the store, it is apparent that most of them are long-time clients. There are requests for the music trunk from an old collection, with built-in speakers and USB ports. And the Rajputana bar. However, it is the leather clutch that gets the most attention. In fine grain leather, with teakwood beaded trim, it is also being previewed at Lane Crawford, Hong Kong’s iconic luxury department store, and is just the sort of accessory that will turn heads next year.

Clutches start at ₹48,000. Details: 0141 4064999

The writer was in Jaipur at the invitation of the Trunks Company.

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