Aratrik’s oeuvre can be traced back to his home in Tripura. Tilla, the name of his house, is also the name of his design label. His hometown, he tells me, is secluded, surrounded by old trees, and is a quiet source of strength for him. Even the clothes he makes evoke a similar emotion—they are elegant, you will feel at home in them and ‘they feel better as they get older’, he says.
Aratrik studied textile design at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad before he delved deep into the world of fashion at Des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. If Ahmedabad and Kutch grounded him in his craft traditions, Paris brought in a sensibility that flirted simultaneously with the classical and experimental. Handwoven materials such as khadi, jamdani and kanjeevaram dominate his fashion voice. The unevenness of texture, instead of mill-made textiles, lends them life. ‘I truly believe that craft has the answers to several design and philosophical questions posed by modern living—it creates work for many hands in a society like ours. It is environmentally sustainable, keeps communities connected, traditional wisdom alive, and allows the maker to customise each piece. There’s so much to learn from craftspeople.’
With a team of 22 at present, Aratrik was always clear that Tilla will not just be a fashion brand but be all things design, and this approach led to several cross disciplinary projects that have materialised over the last year. ‘We are currently designing the interiors of a resort in Pondicherry. Another collaboration with Kiran Rao from Amethyst, Chennai, resulted in a 140-feet-long panorama wallpaper of her garden, which we are now interpreting for a new clothing collection. So there’s always a constant dialogue back and forth between fashion and interior design that we are engaged in, which keeps things fresh.’
Aratrik is always working on simultaneous collections because Tilla sells internationally as well. ‘This means designing for snowy winters while it’s 35 degrees in Mumbai,’ he chuckles. He changes motifs and colours each season, but essentially, the line remains the same. This time too, it features graphics and is inspired from trees.
Take a look at Tilla here.
Text Hansika Lohani Mehtani