More than the sum of its parts

Updated: Jul 19, 2020, 10:54 IST | Shweta Shiware | Mumbai

Co-ord sets are having their moment in the COVID sun; with customers choosing them for multi-purpose lockdown wear that spans WFH to a stroll down the road

Amrita Khanna and Gursi Singh of Lovebirds
Amrita Khanna and Gursi Singh of Lovebirds

"Matching-matching" is a term kids from the 1990s might remember, when their blouses and bottoms, even shoes and hair bands, were colour co-ordinated. The trend has moved to adulthood, and is now called co-ord (short for co-ordinated, loose-fit two-piece dressing), and we are wondering if it has anything to do with the health and economic crisis that has gripped the world.

"Co-ord sets are integral to our brand aesthetic, but yes, it is during these months of lockdown that we created a separate category for them on our website," says Gursi Singh, one half of the clothing brand, Lovebirds.

The move to reclaim co-ord dressing for casual in-and-out of home clothing, says Singh, was partly inspired by Amrita Khanna; his partner in life and work. "She wore co-ords throughout the lockdown." Lovebirds' newest cross-seasonal collection called At Home, launched last week on Instagram, is pure loungewear porn. It allows you to imagine a life where you'd attend a video call, make a perfect cuppa, pop down (with a face mask) to pick up essentials, or chill over Netflix while dressed in the brand's WFH set of ankle-length pyjama and tie-back blouse in handwoven cotton-linen with brush-stroke print.

Call it old-fashion, anti-fashion or a counter to counterculture. Call it what you please. Co-ord dressing is not a cop-out this year. It signals a retreat to the safety and unfailing propriety of clothes that allow you to quietly multitask in.

Gaurav Jai Gupta’s new  selection of mainly co-ord sets coincided with the launch of Akaaro’s ecommerce site. “They [co-ord sets] work well, especially with the partial lockdown driving buyers to shop online. It’s safe and easy to purchase an entire look without trying on an outfit,” says  Gaurav Jai Gupta
Gaurav Jai Gupta’s new selection of mainly co-ord sets coincided with the launch of Akaaro’s ecommerce site. “They [co-ord sets] work well, especially with the partial lockdown driving buyers to shop online. It’s safe and easy to purchase an entire look without trying on an outfit,” says Gaurav Jai Gupta

"They [co-ord sets] work well, especially with the partial lockdown driving buyers to shop online. It's safe and easy to purchase an entire look without touching or trying on an outfit," feels Gaurav Jai Gupta of Akaaro.

Gaurav Jai Gupta

The twin-set design ethos is not new for Gupta. "I always make a complete look when I design." Some brands mix colours well. Some are good with embellishments and cuts. Gupta is a master at using muted metallic jacquard—textured and patterned. "I also work with a lot with handlooms, which makes my garments peculiar, so, it becomes tough for a customer to find a blouse or trousers to match. Buying an entire set makes sense then."

Gupta discovered the commercial codes of "sets" at the very start of his career. "I was advised by friends to focus on CKD sets [a set of churidar, kurta and dupatta] if I wanted to make it in the industry. I took their suggestion, but didn't quite make a success of it," he laughs. Fashion is full of paradoxes: our mothers and aunts can happily vouch for that. They shopped and dressed in matching sets of saree, petticoat and blouse, or salwar-kameez with matching dupatta. Here we are now—in 2020—and co-ordinating prints, colours, and celebrating the classic coupling.

“Its only been a few days since we launched our At Home collection, and the response to the co-ord WFH set has been terrific,” says Gursi Singh of Lovebirds
“Its only been a few days since we launched our At Home collection, and the response to the co-ord WFH set has been terrific,” says Gursi Singh of Lovebirds

It's easy to see the charm of an easy co-ord piece during this lockdown life. Cue co-ord sets also translate into a sustainable purchase, in that you end up with two pieces while buying one set, which have a life outside the outfit and can be reincarnated with countless styling options. For instance, switch the floral tunic for a solid blouse, or the bottoms for jeans, and AM to PM dressing has never been hassle free. Because, really, the sorcery of co-ords lies in them being so much greater than the sum of their separates. It helps that, according to Pallavi Dhyani, "right now, people are buying consciously, and that's a good change. If a single garment offers you the possibility of multiple wears, that's sustainable too".

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“If a single garment offers  you the possibility of multiple wears, that’s sustainable  too,” thinks Pallavi Dhyani  of Three
“If a single garment offers you the possibility of multiple wears, that’s sustainable too,” thinks Pallavi Dhyani of Three

Dhyani introduced co-ord sets to her brand, Three, in 2017, and they are ample in the freshly released Spring/Summer 2020 Volume 2 collection. "My main market is the Middle East, and co-ord sets are a huge hit there. It's now a part of our brand identity and we have a separate category for co-ord sets on our website. They are our bestsellers." The young designer's approach to clothing as functional add-ons, lends itself to matching sets. "It's the most comfortable piece of kapda you can find; wear it while travelling, to a party or to lounge around the house. You can't do all those things in a bodycon dress, can you?" Dhayani reasons.

Tula

Launched in 2012 as an ethical and environmentally conscious business model, Doodlage is widely known for upcycling factory waste. Co-ord sets are not only part of Doodlage's uniform culture and cool capsule wardrobes, its co-founder and creative director Kriti Tula also lives in seven co-ord sets that she admits to wear on repeat. "It pushes the idea of de-cluttering your lifestyle. Co-ord sets reduce the time you would take to think about putting separates together," Tula writes in an email. "They make quite a statement too."

Kriti Tula, co-founder of Doodlage, admits she lives in seven co-ord sets and wears on repeat
Kriti Tula, co-founder of Doodlage, admits she lives in seven co-ord sets and wears on repeat

The joy of small things

Rakhi

Anavila Misra is savouring the little moments these days. The designer's latest initiative involves assorted artisanal rakhis for Raksha Bandhan on August 3. Following up on the handmade dolls she launched in 2018, the handcrafted rakhis are another attempt at repurposing bits and bobs of waste to give them new life. The floral designs with sequin sprinkles are hand-made by women artisans in Gurgaon. Misra is pleased that she has received inquiries not just from brothers and sisters. "We've got many requests from women who want to send rakhis to their sisters. It's lovely. The bond matters, not gender." The linen-enveloped set (R2100) includes a rakhi, mouli (thread), cardamom, cloves, roli (red puja powder), Akshat (rice) and mishti (sweet), and Misra recommends placing an order before July 22 to avoid delays in deliveries. Get on to her site and Instagram handle to check out the collection.

Anaila

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