Tucked into a bower of greenery in the silent town of Kottayam is a quaint traditional house that showcases bridal wears, which are some of the most magnificent ensembles crafted by brilliant artisans. That is Kavani, a brand synonymous with Christian wedding dress.
Kavani took shape in 2012 when Tan Kuruvila, the mind behind the brand was employed with a multinational IT company in Bengaluru. It all happened when she created a portfolio on Facebook and tentatively promoted a few hand-worked sarees.
There was a huge response and the apparels were sold out in no time. After that, queries started pouring in for more such creations. Tan was overwhelmed by the demand and was soon ready with another set of collections. The success this time was beyond expectation and Tan and her mother Laila, co-founder of the brand, never had to look back.
“It was never a business plan to start Kavani. After my wedding I felt there was a need for off-white wedding sarees. I felt its availability was too low and that the designs did not cater to the tastes of most of the customers. The label was established to bridge that gap by catering to the Christian bridal wear segment. That's how it started,” explains Tan who named her brand after the traditional Christian wear for women - the Chatta (traditional Christian blouse), Mundu (dhoti) and Kavani (a kind of white stole).
Trendy and exclusive
“We specialise in Christian bridal sarees and are the the first to know what's the trending material in whites and off-whites in this part of the globe. What you get from us cannot be seen anywhere else within a year or two. We have suppliers from all over India and we do import a lot of materials from abroad. Our store is known to be the first exclusive Christian bridal saree collection in India where we keep updating the stock with the current trend,” says Tan.
Tan started the designer wear unit in Bengaluru and the sales began in Kottayam. Tan's ancestral house in Kottayam, which itself exudes an antique charm of Christian heritage, was transformed into a showroom. The sales in Kottayam is handled by Laila.
Kavani evolved into a major brand in Kerala in a short span of time and enjoys a niche clientele inside and outside the state. Yet, there is no proactive measures to boost it's name or sales through campaigns.
Not much publicity
"We don't give much advertisements and we are not into any competition either," says Laila. "All we do is focus on our creations and ensure them to be simple and elegant. Our sales depend mainly on social media and word-of-mouth publicity."
According to Tan, Kottayam is known for its own fashion. “People here look for elegant, neat and classy work. They prefer more of handwork, cutwork, threadwork, beadwork and colours which are subtle and rich rather than bright and flashy. We design the bridal wear using pure silks like Tussar, organza, raw silk, tissue, lace fabric and so on,” says Tan.
The creations are mostly designed by Tan, who claims to have had her roots in design, arts and creative works in her family. She used to impress her friends and family members with her creative skills in painting and stitching at a very young age. She is said to have inherited the creative trait from her maternal grandmother who had also given her the basic training.
Kavani makes sarees from the scratch using mostly pearl work appliques, shadow French knot work and so on which are fully handmade. “We promise to give our customers quality work at a very reasonable price,” quips Tan.
Though Kavani's target audience is predominantly Christian brides, the label has now branched out to lehenga, party wear sarees and costumes for bridesmaids, engagement and reception dresses and so on. However, it is the white wedding sarees that make Kavani stand apart.
"We do not create anything that is too shiny or glitzy. So we try to bring colour shades that compliment a costume well. We believe that rather than making a costume attractive to eyes, what matters is how it suits on a person,” says Tan.
Kavani, therefore, follows subtle motifs and patterns for its creations. It combines French works like knots, ribbon-and-bead, cutworks, point-needle works with the Indian Aari and Zardosi needle works. What makes Kavani unique is its profound hand-embroidered embellishments distancing itself from shimmering and glittering works.
“The influence of laces and French works like knots and beads are really high on the current market and which is actually taking the look of Indian costumes to a different level altogether,” says Tan.
Kavani has the credit of draping a few celebrities too. Designing costume for singer Benny Dayal's fiancee during their engagement function and donning actor Ann Augustine with the brand's Kerala saree for an award function being a couple of them.