Now Reading
All About Craftsmanship, Sustainability & Mindfulness

All About Craftsmanship, Sustainability & Mindfulness

Anne Kurian

On a cool, breezy day, we arrive at Mrunal’s Boutique to interview the founder, Mrunal Khimji, who celebrated the 16th anniversary of her eponymous brand a few months back. After picking out her wardrobe for the interview and cover shoot, which Mrunal graciously allowed us to be a part of, we got on with the first round of photo shoots. After the photo shoot session, it was onto the video interview for which she changed into a different outfit as we had decided. After a bit of banter, sound and light check, and review of the set-up, we were ready to get rolling.    

Just as we start the camera, the boutique bell rings. A client has dropped in for consultation. Mrunal apologises for having to make us wait, offers us more refreshments, and excuses herself to speak to the client. There are beautiful brands, designs, and textiles around the boutique for us to admire while we wait for Mrunal to finish with the client. But what is even more engrossing is to watch Mrunal at work. Within minutes her worktable is covered with swatches and fabrics as she works with the client to create a very special wardrobe. Mrunal’s assistants are close by to help, yet it’s Mrunal who is up and about showing the fabrics and sample designs to the client. When it comes to her clients, Mrunal is hands-on. 

Mrunal is a trained jewellery designer who worked in New York before moving to Muscat after her marriage. She realised Muscat had little to offer when it came to Indian fashion labels. This prompted her to launch Mrunal’s Boutique. Her sharp eye for spotting cutting-edge Indian fashion labels and curating them for a demographic that had little access to designer brands has made her a force to reckon with in Oman. A passionate advocate of sustainability, the entrepreneur is committed to promoting handcraftsmanship, natural fabrics, and ethical workmanship. 

We get back to the interview set up with the client having left and begin shooting our interview. Excerpts from The Luxury Bulletin’s interview with Mrunal Khimji…

You launched Mrunal’s Boutique 16 years ago. How has the journey been?

It has been a very interesting journey. The last 16 years have been a big learning curve for me, to say the least. I am an innate learner and I have learned so much from my colleagues, clients, and well-wishers during this time. 

You began your career as a jewellery designer in New York. What led to the launch of Mrunal’s Boutique?

When I moved to Oman after my wedding, I realised there was not much potential at that time to pursue a career in jewellery design. I have always wanted to work in an industry that reflects India. I am very patriotic and have wanted to represent the country I am from. For me, fabrics are the best way to express yourself. My mother had a penchant for textiles and during my early years, many creative people were a great influence on me. I felt textiles are a beautiful way of expressing one’s individuality and also showcasing the rich culture of the country I am from. 

Mrunal’s Boutique is a multi-designer/label space. How do you choose the brands and labels that are represented by the boutique? 

The pulse of my clientele is very important to me. I listen to my clients and try to understand what the need of the hour is. I also stay true to the core principles of the business, which is to promote handcraftsmanship and showcase clothes made from natural fibres, as well as ethically sourced fabrics. I prefer collaborating with brands that have similar values. 

What would you consider to be some of the highlights of your career in the last 16 years?

Returning clients remains my top career highlight. This means our clients have faith in what we do. When clients feel uplifted, spirited, and good about what they wear, that’s what makes me happy and grateful. 

There are times when clients bring outfits or fabrics that are connected to their background, and their culture. Often these are ensembles or textiles from their ancestors, and they want to make it into something they can wear. It is extremely gratifying to see their happiness when we have been able to transform such a textile into something they can add to their wardrobe and treasure. 

Mrunal’s Boutique has dressed clients both in Oman and across the borders. What do you attribute to the wide portfolio of clients that you have? 

I feel it is our curation. We can understand what our clients want. I would also like to think it is the personal attention that we give them. We spend time with our clients. In India, there is a saying: Atithi Devo Bhava, which means ‘Guest is God’. That’s the attitude and spirit my team and I strive to offer at the boutique. In this current digital era, I feel we are missing out on personal touch. We offer that personal touch and attention. If I can be there for a client, listen to their requirements, and make them happy, it’s of great honour to me and my team. I think that’s what makes us different.

Sustainability is a subject that’s very close to your heart. How do you support and showcase sustainability at the boutique?

We support and promote handcraftsmanship at the boutique. I always reiterate that we should rely less on power loom fabrics and support our artisans. It is an art form that needs to be supported. And if we don’t support craftsmanship, then it could just disappear one day. 

An important aspect of sustainability is to use of natural fabrics. The skin is the largest organ of the body. You need to use fabrics that allow your skin to breathe. Supple, natural fabrics are skin-friendly and reduce allergic reactions that synthetic fabrics cause. At the boutique, we showcase and retail brands that support this. We always encourage our clients to pick natural textiles over synthetic ones. 

We are aware that the fashion industry is one of the largest polluters of the environment. At our atelier, we try to minimise this in every way possible. We try and reuse leftover fabrics to make everything from buttons to small pouches to pencil cases and more. We are quite committed to upcycling. 

How can one be mindful of their sartorial choices?

Don’t get influenced by social media. People feel pressured to keep adding to their wardrobe. We do not need so many outfits. Learn to style outfits so that you can repeat your clothes. And do repeat your clothes. If styling is difficult, ask a friend or colleague to help. I do that often. Believe it or not, I struggle with styling sometimes. I turn to my close friends and colleagues if I am stuck with styling my outfit. 

A principle I follow and would like to share is to keep a number when it comes to the number of pieces in your wardrobe. I have a number that I stick to, and I make sure that the number of pieces in my wardrobe does not exceed that. When I want to add something new to my wardrobe, I remove one or two pieces and find a new home or use for the pieces. Don’t take fashion too seriously. Have fun with it!

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

© 2020 The Luxury Bulletin. All Rights Reserved.
Designed by TeedotCreative

Scroll To Top