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A Minimalists' Paradise: Abraham and Thakore's Dhan Mill Store

By Arushi Sakhuja

Hailed as the masters of minimalism of the nation Abraham and Thakore are known for their less is more refined aesthetic. They carved a niche in the fashion industry 30 years ago with a unique voice and the brand still upholds the values even today."It's very important to have a distinct design voice and to constantly develop new ideas. This ensures that you are ahead of the game," the duo told The Style List.

David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore welcomed their newest store at The Dhan Mill, Delhi along with their latest homeware collection, Bandhani. The opening follows the brand’s recent retail foray in Mumbai, at the city’s Palladium Mall. Launched in July 2023, this is the second brand store in the Capital and also houses the gallery Blueprint 12. The curated edit from the gallery dialogues with the brand’s creations and vice-versa. "The Blueprint.12 Gallery represents captivating artists who explore materiality, substance, and communication in distinct manners. This aligns well with our interests. Artworks by Mahbubur Rahman that challenge conventional ideas of material behaviour through the interplay of solidity and plasticity are our favourites," said the duo. This is a fine example of fashion and art coming together in a symbiotic, enriching way.

Store design

The facade of the store is modern and contemporary with large bay windows that allow for natural light to illuminate the same. A monochrome palette dominates the space, from the main retail space to the changing rooms. Replicating the brand ideology, the store's appearance is characterized by a clean, skill-centric, and modern approach. Designed by architecture Saurabh Dakshini, the brand ethos lies at the core. "With precise graphic lines, and minimalistic aesthetics enriched by meticulous detailing, architect Saurabh Dakshini has skillfully translated the brand's essence into contemporary. The material choices include the customized terrazzo for the floors which features a graphic, checkerboard pattern and straight lines that appear in many Abraham & Thakore saris are used to create a feature that is now consistent across all their stores.

The design of this store presents a novel expression of the brand's principles, incorporating graphic lines and intricate elements. The vibrant atmosphere is quite appealing." The well-lit environment flawlessly complements the collection of homeware and clothing. The main spotlight is on the clothing arranged across the walls and categorized by colour rather than collection. On one side is womenswear, beginning with signature black and white ensembles in crafts such as kantha, jamdani and ikat. On the other side is a colour palette that transitions to limes and green, oranges and pink and a splash of prints and modern silhouettes. Across the other side of the store, menswear is arranged in a similar colour-coded manner.

Being a unique experience for A&T the Dhan Mill store offers a dynamic fusion of retail, art, and dining. The new store and collection weave the tales of yesterday into the silhouettes of tomorrow in order to reiterate the culture of India through architecture and design. Stepping inside the store one is instantly captivated by a mannequin dressed in black and white, home decor pieces and modern fashion.

New collection launches

Even three decades later, one can easily spot an Abraham and Thakore creation given their unique style. Kaarigars, or weavers, at Abraham and Thakore, belong to communities that developed heritage crafts like embroidery, applique and block printing, hence making their designs represent a fondness for Indian crafts and contemporary fashion. Abraham & Thakore resist the unsustainable speed of fast fashion with techniques that honour the environment. Instead, they use organic dyes, handspun yarn, ikat, and brocade - each requires a slow and deliberate process that minimizes waste.

The store launch coincides with the unveiling of their new homeware line Bandhani. Arranged on a black and white circular table, are offerings from Abraham & Thakore’s home line in monochromes with Ikat and scribbled patterns. On a shelf perched high up on the wall is a selection of tote bags, while other accessories include a line of adorable eye masks and flat footwear for both and women. The functional ceramics are inspired by the bandhani technique of resist tie & dye of Kutch, Gujarat and translated onto porcelain. The bandhani ceramics feature intricate designs on items like bowls, plates, and mugs in stoneware. Rich textiles are used to make table mats, runners, and napkins. The new line of home decor ranges from ceramics like bowls, and plates, to stoneware mugs inspired by the bandhani technique of tie and dye.

It is not only the new monotone homeware collection that is a captivating sight but the launch of new collections too left us awe-inspired. The opening of Abraham & Thakore's new store coincided with the launch of the brand's latest collection namely, Soft Geometries. One can find elaborately embroidered brocades, jewel-toned ikats and captivating colours in the edit. The colour palette encompasses shades like peacock blues and rani pinks, skillfully merging with the alluring geometric forms."The new silk ikat collection in jewel colours has been inspired by the paintings of Rothko. There are bold swathes of colour in a collection of simple elegant separates that are very versatile. There is also a new collection of evening separates in Benarasi brocades that are contemporary and restrained," explained Abraham and Thakore. The edit draws inspiration from the artistic works of the renowned American painter Mark Rothko and the intricate patterns found in African tribal art. From patchwork to sequin embellishments in others, and subtle zari adornments the collection exudes understated glamour. Speaking about trends for the season, the designers believe that...."There’s been a definite move towards elegance and a slightly more dressed-up approach to fashion. This is season appropriate to the new season and subtle shimmer and glamour are an important trend." And when it comes to accessories they have a strong presence. "Simple accessories that make a strong statement. A bold neckpiece can be a very effective focus in a look. And other accessories should be polished and pulled together."

The Evolution of the Fashion Industry

After being in the luxury fashion industry for decades, the designers have witnessed the shift towards fast fashion, social media marketing, excessive competition and the birth of technology. Yet they manage to have a strong voice. Change worked as a positive stimulus for the duo instead of being a factor that scared them. "As individuals, we’re both very curious and intrigued by the world, so change has never frightened us. Nevertheless, as designers, the most arduous phase was undoubtedly the years affected by the pandemic. Everything took an unexpected turn during that time. The global shutdown forced us to reevaluate our priorities."

After the global pandemic, the duo too realises that technology is shaping the world and has transformed our perspective on fashion and style. They recognize that today, social media serve as fashion magazines rapidly disseminating ideas worldwide. This has resulted in heightened fashion and image awareness. Fashion is no longer exclusive; it's accessible to all, they believe. "Our commitment to excellent design remains unwavering. Our design approach adapts to changing consumer trends and technological advancements that influence our lifestyles. While our brand's fundamental principles stay consistent, we continuously explore fresh ways to convey them."

What are your future plans?

We’re always on the lookout for our next challenge. Currently, we're broadening our horizons by diversifying our product offerings. We've introduced men's clothing and homeware. Knitwear is also on our agenda for an upcoming launch. Our goal is to connect with a larger customer base and establish stores in various locations.

Our driving force has always been curiosity and a willingness to challenge the norm. However, we aim to maintain a balance between modern innovation and timeless customs, recognizing the value of lessons from the past. The brand's fundamental values remain consistent. With the world rapidly evolving, we believe fashion must authentically reflect our current realities.


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