This is part two of our interview with Sofia Mehrotra, founder of MEHROTRA. A Stockholm based accessories and lifestyle brand representing the best of Swedish minimalism and Indian warmth. Part two regards the brand itself and conscious fashion, read part one for more about the origins of the brand. See part 1 here.
How has the brand been received by the Swedish market?
Very well, I would say! The idea of Indian handicraft and fashion is still quite new to Stockholmers, the idea of India is still quite rooted in the past, where India was mostly perceived as a cheap place for production. We want to highlight the quality of the Indian textile industry and craft, and our customers can see that.
Do you plan to bring Swedish design to India as well?
Well, we founded the company in Sweden rather than India for a reason. There is a market for western fashion in India, but it is easier to start in your home court. India is so vast, too!
Looking at your products it seems like there are a lot of scarves, how come?
That’s just the start. Scarves are an essential part of the Indian way of dressing up. Just as my grandmother inspired me to get started in fashion, she inspired me to start with scarves. I remember being a kid and always seeing my grandmother in these beautiful scarves, wherever she went. She’d lived in Sweden for 50 years, yet she never stopped wearing the traditional Indian sari. While it’s a traditional Indian women’s wear it never felt out of place here. We won’t stop there though, we want to bring as much of Indian traditions into this marriage of Sweden and India.
As beforementioned you produce everything in India.
Yes! And this is very integral to the quality of our products and connection to India. The textile industry in India is so well-developed and rich in traditions.
To a lot of Swedes production in India is associated with low costs and environmentally compromised production…
Absolutely! And this was a concern of ours! We are very adamant to make sure our production is verifiably kind to both the environment and the workers. That is why we used a sourcing company called Green Karma. All of our their production partners must live up to our standards as far as worker’s rights and environmental factors go. It is true, however, that the demands on production partners are, generally speaking, looser over there – but as clients, you should make demands! You can’t choose blindly.
So consciousness is key. When did you go launch and what has happened since?
It is. We launched in October, but the project started more than a year before that. The entire family has involved itself since, that’s actually how we met Green Karma, through family friends. A lot of focus up until now has been to launch and put the name out there.
What lies in the future?
Product development. We want to move beyond scarves and create a full imagery with a unique sense of MEHROTRA. This will take time, and focus, as green threads are essential. We are looking to grow organically based on our customer needs. We already ship internationally, but international growth is also a part of our strategy.
You mentioned your customer needs, who are your customers today?
It’s funny, we had an idea of who we thought they would be, but demography turned out to be obsolete when we look at our customers. We have women in their 50’s as well as men in their 20’s sporting MEHROTRA! There is, however, a common mindset among them. Our customers are curious, bold and global.
Thank you, Sofia! It’s been great chatting with you. As always, we want to wrap this up with asking you what ”Swedish Quality” means to you? Oh, and of course, Indian quality!
Thank you! Haha, I suspected this question would come! Swedish Quality, to me, is the timeless design. But also about key details and boldness in trying out new materials.
Indian quality is prevalent in handicraft and material. It comes down to really knowing your fabrics and applying a deep knowledge of sewing.