By Hand From The Heart is a biannual Makers Market held in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
Architect Shweyta Mudgal is the design director and founder of Eight Thousand Miles – a lifestyle design for sustainable alternatives for children clothing and furnishings brand based in New York & Mumbai. She’s back at the makers market this October and we catch up with her about her new line up and her experience at By Hand From The Heart.
A bit about yourself and what you do.
I am an Architect/ Urban Designer specializing in Airport Architecture, Planning & Design. About 2.5 years ago, while on a global mobility stint with my family, I turned Entrepreneur when I founded Eight Thousand Miles as a lifestyle design brand to create a sustainable, ethically sourced, handcrafted and handmade lifestyle collection for children, adults & home with a contemporary, bohemian-chic design aesthetic.
Background – I have always believed in the power of design, much before I even decided to dedicate a career to it and train formally as an Architect/ Urban Designer. Sartorial or spatial; design at any scale has always given me a high like none other. I like to think of my design journey as always having been spatial – that has transcended scales – from public to personal, from cities to clothing, airports to apparel and ‘macro’ to ‘micro’.
Born and raised in Mumbai, India, I moved to New York in 2003 and specialized in Airport-Design, a field I worked in for the next decade. From 2012 to 2014 I spent a year each, living in Singapore & Mumbai with travel to over 20+ countries in between. That stint turned out to be the turning point in my professional career as I set up the path for being an Entrepreneur. Somewhere along the way, while traversing those many miles, is when Eight Thousand Miles was born. Convinced that life was best led between global antipodal homes, as against in either one of them, I took inspiration in my travels, tamed my wanderlust a little, synthesized my love for all things artisanal, bohemian & handmade and decided to anchor the vagabonding ideas in my head into my first design based socio-entrepreneurial lifestyle start-up aptly titled – eight thousand miles!
Tell us about your new showcase at the By Hand, From The Heart.
Our new showcase this festive season is called ‘Meet | Play | Love’. Our belief has always been to create comfortable, fun attire for free-spirited wanderers – who can play, sleep, jump and do just about anything and everything in our apparel. Taking that idea forward, we have developed a number of fun prints, many inspired from contemporary global ideas, block-printed on the softest quality cotton voile and sewn into loosely fit silhouettes and styles (many of which are gender-neutral).
This festive season we are also taking into account the plethora of requests we’ve had from older kids (ages 8+ to pre-teens), parents/ uncles/ aunts/ grandparents and just about anybody who has seen our work and hoped that they could have a piece of it for themselves too. So we have truly ‘grown-up’ as we like to think of it and expanded our children’s sizing range to go all the way from newborn to 12 years. Additionally, we are very thrilled to be introducing, for the first time ever in India – a GENDER-NEUTRAL i.e unisex line of night wear for adults too. (We have been told we are possibly the only brand in India to take on such a concept. But our belief is clothing need not be gender-specific.
Especially night wear – which we believe should be more about comfort than cut! So our fun, contemporary block-printed night wear can now be found in every possible size – from kids to adults (8 sizes in kids ranging from 0 – 12 years and 5 sizes in adults ranging from XS to XL). This way one can shop “matching-pj sets” for the entire family without having to worry about their gender (such as for uncle/ niece, aunt/ nephew, aunt/niece, mommy-daughter, daddy-son etc)
“eight thousand miles” – can you explain what you mean?
Eight thousand miles is the diameter of the earth. It is also the distance that separates our two home cities of Mumbai and New York. As a brand venture that was conceived on a journey (literally while traversing the miles during a two year global mobility stint that I undertook with my family, that took us around the sun many times), Eight Thousand Miles – the brand, celebrates the idea of the home as a place sans borders. We embody the belief that all individuals are born to be non-conformist, free-spirited wanderers. The brand ‘eight thousand miles’, is an ode to the idea of multiple homes; a sense of simultaneous belonging to more than one part of the world!
What’s your favourite pick at Eight Thousand Miles?
My personal favorite pick from this year’s Eight Thousand Miles collection is our Limited Edition – festive line for kids – which comprises of ‘modern-cut reversible palazzo + crop top sets’ for girls & ‘jodhpuri rider pants + short asymmetrical jacket sets’ for boys. We developed a muted pastel palette – comprising of pale pinks/ lavenders/ sea green & yellow – all of which serve as an excellent base for hand-blocked gold geometric prints.
Right from our first festive collection in 2014, we have delved with the idea of reversibility in apparel. Especially when it comes to kid’s apparel, being a mom myself, I have often been drawn to the idea of trying to make a piece of clothing work longer and in multiple ways for my daughter. Our first festive collection in 2014 toyed with the idea of reversibility in simple-cut lehenga-choli sets – which meant each set could be worn in 4 different ways. That idea was a huge hit with our clientele – both in India & abroad.
With our 2016 festive collection, we have brought back ‘reversibility & adaptability’ in our festive line – in that each palazzo and its respective crop top can be reversed, to be worn inside-out or outside-in. Simply put, I believe it gets the customer more bang for their buck (2 colors & 4 sets in one), while providing the fun element of criss-cross mix-and- match for the child and their parent. Our attempt has always been to steer clear our festive collection from a ‘traditional ethnic aesthetic’ in order to accentuate the versatility and adaptability of our garments. This means that a palazzo + crop top set lends itself to a ‘variety in wear-ability’ – the palazzo pant and crop top can both be worn as separates – over skirts/ jeans or leggings and with vests/ tops or kurtas.
Similarly, the ‘jodhpuri rider pants + short asymmetrical jacket sets’ can be worn as separates or as a set, depending on the occasion and/ or mood of the little wearers or their parent.
You have participated at an earlier edition at BHFTH; share your experience.
The Maker’s Market organized by BHFTH in August 2016, was our first market experience in Chennai. We were highly impressed with how meticulously planned the show was – to the last minutest detail, from the placement of the makers to the lunch menu on both days. The core team, especially Deepa & Kshiti were thoroughly involved in every aspect of the show, which was clearly evident in the way it all came together beautifully, on the final two days. As an out-of-town vendor, they also made it very easy for us to be a part of the show and even helped us by putting in touch with smart and diligent volunteers/ interns who helped with every aspect of set-up and running the show. Having done many shows all over India and abroad, this one has gone down in our books, as an absolute pleasure to work with. Kudos to the team!
At the Makers Market exhibition in Chennai this October, meet the maker!
By Hand From The Heart: MAKERS MARKET – Festival Special – 19th Edition
Date: Friday – Saturday, 7th – 8th October, 2016
Time: 10:00 a.m – 8:00 p.m
Venue: Crowne Plaza Chennai Adyar Park
Address: 132, T.T.K Road, Alwarpet, Chennai – 600018, Tamil Nadu. India