For her label pero, Aneeth Arora uses pure textiles and craft to create clothes so comfortable, they redefine luxury, says Supriya Dravid.
Aneeth Arora is an anomaly in many ways. She’d be just as happy to be anonymous. Invisible, even. The kind of girl who might brush off fame as annoying lint. Yet she manages the cult following that her clothing label, pero, has achieved, with an unself-conscious ease. I’d like to believe that she is fashion’s favourite outsider. Tiptoeing at the edge of convention, pero is a calming antidote to our age of excess. Just like Arora, who exudes an air of stillness.
We meet on a cold January afternoon when I make the trek to Arora’s factory at East Delhi’s Patparganj Industrial Area. From where she is sitting, in a glass cubicle that seems to be suspended mid-air, she can keep tabs on all comings and goings. Her brother, Jasmeet, sits in another cubicle opposite her. He quit his job at Citibank to help restructure her company. “He said to me, enough of your jugaad set-up, let’s get real,” she laughs. The restructuring has helped her streamline her unit and make it cohesive for her production team.
Her phone rings off the hook; something tells me Arora’s not much of a phone person. The only disturbances she allows once we start talking is when her embroiderers stop by to check on something, like a pattern, the colour of thread, the stitch. She listens to them carefully and patiently; she knows they are the backbone of her company. Slow, steady, organic growth has got Arora to where she is today. Over 80 artisans work for her, many of whom have been with her from the very beginning, in 2009, when she started in a small flat with one tailor and a runner.
Her office has no frou-frou accoutrements; it’s clear she comes here only to work. Samples lie strewn on her desk. A laptop remains half-shut. Just behind her office runs a long, empty corridor that will soon turn into a pero archive. “We need to do it, we’ll do it soon,” she half-says to herself. Arora has been busy. She’s just finished designing her fall/winter collections at Pitti Uomo (a black and white palette that uses wool from Himachal and block prints from Gujarat) and the first chota pero (her children’s wear line) show at Pitti Bimbo, Florence. She’s also sent off her first consignment of Lazy péro, a new off-shoot line that she launched last October, to Bombay Electric in Mumbai.
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