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Kerala-based designers marry tradition with modernity this Onam

From Seamstress’ kitsch collection that is a bright dash of colour

The default Onam palette is white and gold, with the odd dash of colour either woven in, printed or added as surface embellishment. A few Kerala-based designers have added a dash of whimsy to their collections this Onam, marrying the traditional with the modern.


From Inkpikle’s collection

From Inkpikle’s collection
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Kochi-based designer Aathira Manali of Inkpikle has stuck to ivory for her handspun, handwoven saris (with kasavu) screen-printed with Onam motifs such as thumbapoo (Ceylon slitwort) and papillon butterfly (seen during this season in Kerala). The saris have been woven at Chendamangalam. “The saris with the papillon butterfly are new, made especially for the season. The palette of prints is predominantly green since Onam is defined by lush greenery all around,” says Aathira. Each of the saris have a touch of kasavu and strips of metallic prints for added effect. 

The saris are made on order, prices start at ₹3,900. 

Head to @inkpikle on Instagram for details


From Jebsispar’s Oonu collection

From Jebsispar’s Oonu collection
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What is Onam without sadya? Jebin Johny’s Oonu collection is an ode to the sadya, with the components even labelled. Designer Jebin Johny pushes the envelope with his collection. Known for his out-of-the-box design sensibility marked by his trademark bold Kerala-inspired prints such as pepper, water hyacinth, margamkali, Chinese fishing net etc on Koothampully fabric, he has opted for red as the colour for the collection. “Inspiration is the basis of my collections, and I derive it from everything I see around me. The plantain tree with fruit, for instance, is the other collection. I grow plantain… guess where the inspiration came from?” says the designer. For those looking for ivory, there is Musa Acuminta with the plantain print.  

Besides saris, the collection (for women and men) has dresses, tunics, kurtas, lehengas and others. 

Prices start at ₹6,000 and can go up to ₹28,000. 

For details head to @jebsispar on Instagram. 

Rouka by Sreejith Jeevan

Appliqued and embroidered lotus motifs on handloomed cotton saris by Rouka

Appliqued and embroidered lotus motifs on handloomed cotton saris by Rouka
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Special Arrangement

Appliqued and embroidered butterflies, lotuses, hibiscus, leaves — Sreejith Jeevan’s Onam collection ‘Thy Garden Come’ is a nod to the memories of his grandmother’s flower-filled garden. “In the evenings she would string the jasmine flowers for her own hair. As a child I would admire her green thumb, being able to get a plant cutting and convert it into a beautifully flowering plant. Later in life, working with textiles, I would compare the process to the way she would grow her garden. So, it was about finding local skill, nurturing it, waiting patiently for it to bloom with both ideas and prayer. Thy Garden Come, inspired from the popular phrase ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ is a tribute to the spirit of growing the local — in reverence to the Kingdom of Mahabali where righteousness and prosperity ruled. To me, this defines the celebration that is Onam,” says the designer. Besides these there are the signature contemporary handwoven kasavu sari. 

Prices range from ₹3,995 to ₹10,000

Available at the Rouka store; @roukabysreejithjeevan on Instagram. 


The Onam collection this year is a kitschy, ombre-dyed splash of colour. “The inspiration came from the women working in the fields, in their bright lungis and blouses which don’t match. The dash of colour forms a striking contrast against the green of the paddy fields,” says Rasmi Poduval of Seamstress, the Thrissur-based label. Giving the traditional white and gold palette a miss, the bright colours are for those looking for a change. However, one of the popular colours is mustard “which resembles gold. It is Onam, and people would still like to wear something close to the traditional!” says Rasmi. Red flows into magenta, peacock blue becomes parrot green, and pink turns to peach…the muslin saris can be paired with ‘mismatched’ ikkat blouses, sold separately. 

Saris are priced ₹3,400 and blouses start at ₹2,400.

Available on seamstress.co.in.  or @seamstress_india on Instagram 


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