When one door closes, another opens. Just as the West is realising that there’s far more to India than Bollywood and saris, an authentic slice of India is slowly making its way across the seas.
Cheri Flewell-Smith is helping to bring a colourful and authentic piece of India to Australian homes with her new online store, The New Punjab Trading Company. The marketplace for fashion accessories and homewares combines traditional Indian craft practices with contemporary styles and patterns, which Flewell-Smith designs herself.
Although born in Sydney, Flewell-Smith has always cherished her Indian roots, growing up in a traditionally Indian home. Her grandfather hails from a Punjabi village, a home away from home when Flewell-Smith returns to India, as she did recently with her Australian husband and in-laws. The trip would turn out to be the genesis of The Punjab Trading Company. The troupe travelled for 12 weeks with no set itinerary, searching out new crafts and techniques in small, little known villages well off the tourist trail.
The New Punjab Trading Company has launched this week with six impressive collections, including Bombay Boheme, a range of hand-loomed, patterned silk scarves made in a village near Mumbai; Jaunt to Jaipur, a line of rustic patched leather cushions; and High Noon, which comprises a range of jangly statement necklace pieces and chunky, brassy bracelets influenced by high summer in Rajasthan.
The close attention to detail is clear in each and every piece. Each collection contains a small number of available items, partly due to the necessity of working with Indian craftspeople, but mostly to ensure an authenticity and a personalised touch still rings through the designs. Flewell-Smith believes that her pieces fit in with the modern, Australian home yet are still “steeped in heritage”.
The new lifestyle brand is anything but kitsch or token. Instead, it proves a beautiful way to lighten your home or your outfit with designs from across the shores, of which no one else will have a matching pair.