Interview with Manjula Tiwari, CEO, Ancestry

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Ancestry, a contemporary Indian Lifestyle & Fashion label by Future Style Lab Ltd is increasing its retail footprint in India.

With a rich textile legacy, India has a heritage of weaves that is impossible to ignore. And it is this very story of India that sees a confluence of aesthetics, responsible and mindful consumption and natural materials that Ancestry is seeking to do. This is a brand that caters to the Indian women of today who is quite different from the previous generation and who appreciates the fabric and the global silhouettes. Manjula Tiwari, CEO, Ancestry tells us more in this exclusive conversation.


Tell us something of the brand Ancestry and what was the though process behind its evolution?

Ancestry is a fashion and lifestyle label launched by Future Style Lab. The label draws its inspiration from India’s design heritage and offers womenswear as well as homeware among other product lines. The brand’s products, both in the fashion and lifestyle space, have a distinctly urban provenance while being interestingly rooted in heritage. With nine stores in the country situated in Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Goa and Chennai, Ancestry has already earned much love and accolades from the new-age Indian women who seek contemporary style rooted in Indian traditions. The idea was born out of the need to provide the charm of traditions in a contemporary format to the modern, discerning Indian consumers at affordable prices.

What are the kinds of clothes that are being retailed at the store?

Ancestry is popularly known for taking Indian tradition in a contemporary format across the country at affordable price points, making Indian craft easily accessible to women. The collections focus on chic and comfortable styles for the modern women of today. Each collection drop focuses on different silhouettes and design elements. The current collections at the store include styles using Jamdani fabrics, Shibori techniques and Floral prints across Dresses, jumpsuits, dhoti pants, Shirt dresses and kurtas. We will soon be launching a collection titled ‘Kaziranga’ inspired by the famed national park in the state of Assam, and the weaving techniques, unique to the state. However, the collection celebrates something more special, and that’s the majestic Indian Rhinoceros, on the occasion of World Rhino Day on 22nd September.


What is the USP of the designs here?

The label draws its inspiration from India’s design heritage and offers womenswear as well as home ware lifestyle collections. Ancestry is inspired by the evolving face of the new age Indian woman, who is self-assured, professionally competent and curious to discover new paths. The Ancestry Woman represents the evolving face of contemporary India. She is curious about the world and finds new paths to discover it. Despite everything she remains rooted and innately Indian. She is driven by her cultural capital to appreciate design and aesthetics. Our designs are created for the Indian woman, always integrating homegrown weaves and craft forms such as Bagru and Jamdani, to a forthcoming collection with age old weaving traditions of Assam. We believe this is the USP of our designs.

You focus on Indian traditional handlooms, has this been a conscious decision?

Yes this is the brand ethos of Ancestry, to present traditional crafts in a modern day silhouette.


Who are the weavers that you work with?

Ancestry works only with natural fabrics such as chanderi, cotton and linen. The fabrics for Ancestry’s Jamdani collection were actually woven at Bardhman in West Bengal. Similarly, Ancestry’s ‘Earthernwear’ collection was created in Bagru, Rajasthan, which is one of the few centres in India famous for its Dabu mud-resist printing technique.

What are the kinds of textile revival activities that you have undertaken?

Some of the crafts used by Ancestry, including Jamdani and Dabu Print, are indeed unique to the geographies from where they were sourced from. Ancestry helped the craftsmen in bringing their craft to forefront by presenting it in styles and silhouettes which are loved and appreciated by the modern day women. The idea is to revive the traditional Indian crafts by taking them through the change of time, and presenting their modern version to culturally evolved audience.

What are the kind of cuts and designs you focus on?

The collection at Ancestry comprises of exquisite contemporary Indian outfits from kurtas to long dresses, jumpsuits, dhoti pants, palazzos, petite short dresses, tunic tops, and many more; indulged into pastel and breezy colours, and recasts this artisanal craft in modern cuts and silhouettes. Elephant, fish and club motifs imbued Ancestry’s Jamdani collection with a rustic charm and quirkiness. The Meraki collection is a fun mix of Shibori Styles, florals and timeless classics in white. The colour palette ranges from Natural Indigo to watermelon hues, pure whites and florals in pastel blues and peach. While the designs and cuts vary with collection, we do not compromise on quality and comfort.


What are the new trends you see in women’s wear?

More comfort and luxurious fits that are easy to wear are basically trending. More and more women want to wear India Modern to make a style statement. We see contemporary cuts presented in different fabrics make a great trend.

How often do you have new collections?

We launch a new collection every fortnight or sometimes new styles are added every month. We also focus on collections inspired around festivals and time the launches accordingly. For instance we have launched a collection around Durga Puja – A progressive, empowering collection, which echoes the strength and significance of modern-day goddesse, titled Cinnabar.

Something about your love for textiles and how you translate that in your garments?

With a commitment to ensure that we use only nature-derived fabrics, it is essential that every textile used by us not only provides the wearer an innate comfort, but also a delight in terms of its touch, feel, and quality. And we do mention, quite transparently, on how such fabrics need to be treated delicately post every purchase, so the natural imperfections of handcrafted textiles are retained and not misunderstood for flaws or quality defects.


What are some of the challenges you see in the women’s apparel market and how do you plan to overcome them?

In the ever growing and competitive fashion industry product innovation is a key factor and a challenge which sets a brand apart from the rest. It is key to innovate constantly in order to compete and stay on the top of the consumers mind. Quality control, innovations in designs and techniques, introducing competitive pricing and the merging of technology with fashion help the innovation curve to keep moving upwards continually.

What are the future plans for the brand?

Ancestry will continue to grow steadily, yet cautiously, with offline and online retail presence, with each point of sale being judiciously selected. In both offline and online space, the brand will focus on company operated properties / assets. Collaborations with like-minded brands and designers would always be welcome.

This story first appeared in Apparel magazine’s October 2019 issue here:

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