Brass Tacks And Anaka Give Everyday Wear A Fashionable Makeover : Mumbai

She studied economics in USA, she worked in New York and then she quit it all to come back home, to Chennai and start her own fashion label Brass Tacks – that’s Anaka in a snapshot and that honestly is an introduction that does massive injustice to the talented and lovely person that Anaka is. But that really is what caught my fancy, other than the fact that she is gorgeous and always well turned out.

Image source : photographer : Manou

A few days back we ended up having an hour long conversation, during which we mainly discussed emerging economies, global economic growth rates, international trade flows, fiscal tightening and international gridlocks over political issues – nahhhhh!! we discussed far more relevant and pressing matters like emerging style trends, global fashion, international silhouettes and the style and fabric diversity in our country.

So here is a little excerpt of our conversation..

What was harder deciding to leave New York or dealing with all the teething issues of a start up?
Leaving New York wasn’t so hard because I was taking a step closer towards what I wanted to do. I knew that I wanted to work with Indian textiles and I have always been more excited about the domestic market than about exporting. Both required me to live in India and I was happy to make that move. 
Dealing with teething issues of a start-up compares to nothing else in life. Nothing prepares you for the kind of multi-tasking and people-management you have to do, let alone the amount of work you have to do on  your own, specially if you are someone who is picky about the details. 

Image source : photographer : Manou

What is the best and worst thing about New York fashion?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to say, but if I have to.. I’d say that the worst thing is that many people feel pressured to conform to a certain look or follow certain trends, and I imagine that wealthier people feel pressured to wear designer labels that make a statement in-spite of there being a lot of independent designers and a ton of variety. 
I think the best thing about New York fashion is something that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world: there is room for diversity. If you’re into wearing jumpsuits made of African wax-resist prints, you’ll find a small community that dresses in a similar vibe. I think there’s a lot of respect for people who express themselves through their fashion, even if it’s not quite your taste. Ever seen those videos by Bill Cunningham for the New York Times? Differences in attitudes and dress sense is celebrated, and people are not put down for taking a path that isn’t a conventional trend.  

What is the best and worst thing about Chennai (Indian) fashion?

Again, I’m not qualified!
Any city in India is so complex because our dress sense has so much to do with our culture, our religion, our society (and restrictions placed upon us by society). And then there’s our tradition of sarees and other Indian clothes. Women here take pride in owning their Kanjeevaram silk sarees and the sari holds a place way higher than any cocktail dress. Perhaps the best thing about Chennai fashion is that so much respect and recognition is given to classic beauty. I also think that the upside to being less exposed to trends (and the pressure that comes with that exposure to follow them) is that women really think about what looks good on them instead of following a trend because a fashion magazine said so.
I read an article in the papers the other day about upcoming trends in 2014, and the article said something to the effect of, “try wearing a dress with cut-outs. Cut-outs suit every body type- you just have to find the one that suits you”. I thought it was hilarious – first the statement about how it suits every body type, and then the assumption, on the journalist’s part, that highlighting trends meant telling the readers what to do. That doesn’t fly in Chennai, and fortunately women are still assessing fashion on their own terms.
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Haha Thank God Anaka, we Indian women are smarter than most fashion magazines think us to be. Imagine Indian streets teeming with women of all shapes and sizes in cut out dresses..
And what is the worst thing, you think?
I think the pressure to conform to tradition is so high that people are hesitant to break away from the norm. People are sometimes afraid to do something different and new, because of how they might be perceived. How is a person supposed to express himself or herself if they are not in a space where they feel comfortable doing so?
 Fashion today isn’t as much about what label you wear, or which designer outfit you own. It’s about how you put it all together in a way that’s really unique to you. In other words, dressing different (and making it look good on you) is key to looking fashionable, and how can you do that if you’re afraid to express yourself in a way that’s different from everyone else?

Does Brass Tacks bring the best of both worlds to us? What is the fashion philosophy behind the brand?
No, it does not bring the best of both worlds. There are many worlds and I don’t think it’s a question of best or worst, but perhaps what is relevant or what is currently lacking in the market. 
I started Brass Tacks because I wanted to wear Indian textiles that were tailored into shapely, fashion-forward silhouettes. I imagine that there are many young women in India who would like to experiment with different shapes, but who also want to wear a variety of hand-crafted textiles rather than the polyester-crepe or flat, mill-cotton you often find in “western” clothes. 
I’m very passionate about Indian textiles – not just because of their aesthetic value but also because I’m in awe of the process that goes into making these textiles. I don’t think there are enough labels/ brands that offer these textiles in the form of urban silhouettes and I wanted to start a label that would fill that void (and fill my own wardrobe in the process)! 

Image source :

Your pants, ahhhhhh…lets talk about those, well I mean pants from Brass Tacks Madras. They are seriously awesome!! whats the secret sauce recipe?
Full-figured Indian hips – that’s the recipe. It took me over 100 samples before we figured out why a lot of the pants you find in Europe and the United States don’t work for many Indian women. Many Indian women have a high waist to hip ratio (meaning a smaller waist and a wider hip), so unless the pants follow that same shape, they don’t sit well. The result, when you’re not wearing the right pants, is gaping at the back when you sit down, or not enough support at the waist so unless you’re really fit the pants could create an artificial “tummy” above the waist while you’re wearing them. Of course, with ready-made clothing you still can’t please everyone and there are still a variety of body-types we’re not catering to as yet, but as we grow we hope to have more fits that work for more body shapes. 

BTW, the wide hem pants (pic below) are my absolute favorite :)

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Where all can we get our hands on Brass Tacks Madras merchandise?
At our store in Chennai, online (, and at our exhibition at Cache Art Gallery in Bandra on 21st and 22nd Feb, 2014


Give us a glimpse of what Brass Tacks is bringing for us in Mumbai.
We’re bringing these silk Ajrakh-printed jackets, a stunning draped, wrap dress, a variety of pants (stretch pants and wide hem linen pants), and a fantastic range of versatile work wear. Cotton is one of my most favourite fabrics and everyday-wear is a huge part of my line. That’s actually the coolest challenge about my creative work: constantly finding new ways to make cotton look different and fashionable, and remind people that it’s still very relevant. 

All you lucky Mumbai ladies, do mark your calendar and don’t forget to visit Anaka and Brass Tacks at Cache Art Gallery in Bandra on 21st and 22nd Feb, 2014

want to look good and feel fab always?? Join us


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