After establishing Milaaya Embroideries in 2000 and Gayatri Khanna House of Fashion in 2006, Gayatri Khanna, in July, 2020 launched her third venture GAYA.
Gaya’s debut collection is a stunning range of embellished and printed masks for kids, men and women. The masks are available online on the brand’s website theworldofgaya.com. Gaya, its founder says, will evolve and grow with the changing times and will not identify with just one product. Khanna also plans to launch a loungewear edit as well.
In her 20 years in the luxury space, Khanna has worked with Versace, Gucci, Alexander McQueen and many more. Her purpose has always been to introduce exceptional Indian crafts and embroideries to the global market. Her designs and outfits have been worn on international runways by Beyonce, Shakira, Anne Hathaway and Nicole Kidman.
Even so, announcing a new venture in the lockdown was a bold business step.
How did the idea of launching GAYA take shape?
With the existing expertise and the resources, it was just a matter of using them to the best capacity. After a lot of research, we decided to launch luxury masks with intricate embellishment and prints, which were the need of the hour. The price range goes up to ₹6,500 per mask. Buy here
COVID-19 has slowed down businesses. We support 450 employees in India and 10 employees overseas. Either we could wait for the wave to pass with uncertainty or learn to adapt to the changing times, which is what fashion is all about – change. Our aim was to offer high quality designer masks to keep our clients safe and help them make a statement too.
Next, we’ll launch a line of luxurious loungewear in modern designs with bold prints and novel embellishments.
Please tell us about Gaya’s joint initiative with the Helping Hand Foundation.
During the initial days of Mumbai’s lockdown, we realised that while we’re locked in the comforts of our homes, on the other side of the wall were the underprivileged who didn’t have access to even the basic essentials. So we started donating around 2000 masks every week to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation.
After launching Gaya, we thought of including our customers in this movement as well by launching #BuyOneGiveOne. For every mask bought, we donated a mask to the Helping Hand Foundation.
What makes Gaya’s embellished masks one of a kind?
Each Gaya mask is unique and tells a story. We have dainty, embroidered floral masks for those who like nature and all things pretty. The ones who prefer classic-chic can pick one from our beaded lace masks and the ones with a little sparkle and ombre sequins are for those who like the glitz and glamour.
There are beaded lips, embellished skull and cupcake masks for those who love ‘edgy’, and denim styles for people who like cool casuals. What’s common in all the masks is the detailing and intricacy of craftsmanship.
How do you keep yourself motivated and creatively inspired?
The creative process keeps me motivated! Being in the creative zone with my design team, brainstorming ideas, creating designs and then watching them turn into reality is one of the most exciting parts of my work.
It is important to stay positive and focused during the lockdown and not lose sense of yourself. I find inspiration in the smallest of things and remotest of the corners. Be it the flowers in a garden or beads on the embroidery frame in my factory or the books I read or the movies I watch or even my past travels
What does the future of local handcrafts in the Indian fashion industry looks like?
The pandemic has proved to be a catalyst in promoting homegrown brands. As a fashion industry, we need to keep the momentum going and encourage the use of local, handcrafted items in a way that appeals to young, global consumers. Social media has a huge impact in this regard.
Hand embroidery is a dying art. In India, this skill is passed on from father to son. The children have seen their fathers struggle to make ends meet and work long hours. They want a better future for themselves. At Milaaya and Gaya, we are trying to change this perception by giving our karigars and other employees equal benefits. They are respected for their work and clock in 8 hours a day in comfortable premises, attend training sessions and are given salaries and EPF benefits.
If more fashion houses opt for this kind of sustainable and ethical manufacturing process, we can not only attract international brands to manufacture here, but also safeguard the future of crafts.
Which luxury designers has Milaaya worked with in the international market?
Milaaya Embroideries is a 100 per cent export house and we work with over 150 luxury brands from Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Tom Ford, Dolce and Gabbana to Versace, Armani and Roberto Cavalli.