Rajendra Prasad tells us about his brand Byhand and his Onam Edit this year
Byhand is a brand that is synonymous with responsible fashion. From supporting artisans and weavers in rural India to promoting and using handcrafted textiles and products such as handloom weaves, Khadi, hand block prints, tie and dye, Bandhini, Chikankari and Kanthawork to name a few, the brand aims to bridge the gap between rural artisans and weavers and urban customers. By ensuring eco-friendly processes and use of organic and up cycled materials in their clothing line, they have taken a step forward towards responsible fashion. Ritz catches us with the founder, Rajendra Prasad who tells us about his journey thus far and the Onam Edit this year.
Interview: Riya Sonny Datson
What made you venture into the fashion segment?
I am an electrical engineer by profession with 24 years of experience in construction and project management in the Oil and gas segment. But handloom technology has been close to my heart from my school years and I wanted to pursue it as my career. Unfortunately that didn’t happen and I chose a completely different line altogether. I had to travel across India during my work and whenever I traveled, I made it a point to visit rural craftsmen and weavers and watched them work at close quarters. I was fascinated by their art and skill.The passion was always within me and I think it was my destiny which eventually led me back to Byhand.
What is the mission of Byhand as a responsible fashion brand?
During my travels I realised that the artisans and weavers were struggling to earn a living and though handcrafted products were selling at a good price, the monetary benefits were not really reaching the creators. Their lives were not as colourful as their products or weaves. Byhand aims to bridge the gap between these craftsmen and the customer by providing monetary support, raw materials, quality checks, design ideas and micro financing opportunities and in the process provide original, quality handloom products in traditional and modern designs to customers at fair pricing. We follow the principles of World Fair Trade which stresses on points like no child labour, fair wages for all, no discrimination, fair pricing, transparency and accountability, good working conditions and so on. We also support woman empowerment and have joined hands with NGOs to source handwoven bags made by women. These bags are named after each of their creators.
Tell us about your product range.
Though our main focus is on women’s wear, we have ready made women’s, men’s and kids wear products in our clothing line. Some of our special products include certified organic jeans, T shirts and shirts for men. Our accessories range includes footwear, bags and hand crafted jewellery. We also have handcrafted sarees from across India, hand loom and hand block printed fabrics in cotton, linen and silk apart from handicraft and home decor items and materials. We also have Kochi’s largest collection of eco-friendly handcrafted fabrics at our store. Customers can purchase the same and our team of designers will help customise the design for the client as per their requirements.
Tell us about your Onam Edit.
Kerala handlooms from Chendamangalam, Balaramapuram and Kuthampilly are our pride and we believe that this Onam we should wear Kerala’s pride. There is beauty in each thread and that is our inspiration for our Onam collection this year which is called Ezha azhagu. There has been a recent trend of promoting Kerala attire which has been made in factories outside Kerala but we must consciously promote our local weavers or the craft will slowly die. This year we are focusing on handlooms from Chendamangalam. All our designs including sarees and suits are made using the handloom sourced from them. After the floods, a lot of celebrities and designers reached out to help these handloom weavers but their condition continues to be challenging and they are still struggling. There is a need to support them on a long term basis. Our aim is to promote them even after the Onam season.
How has the response been in Kochi?
It has been tremendously encouraging. Though we have had to face many challenges ever since we started in 2017, like the floods and the pandemic, we have managed to stay afloat. We have loyal clients who are conscious about what they wear. We have clients from Kochi, across Kerala from Kozhikode to Trivandrum and also from other parts of India.
What are your future plans?
We are getting enquiries for franchise opportunities and we are considering our options. We hope to be a leading ethnic fashion brand with a National presence. We already have clients from countries outside India like the Middle East, US, UK and Africa. Our logistics team has a network that covers upto 65 countries across the world.
What are your Price points?
Our collection starts from INR 1000.
How can customers place orders?