The booming company Fabindia is the country’s answer to H&M and Ikea, pumping out stylish, low-cost ready-to-wear garments, organic food, and home furnishings. American John Bissell founded the brand in 1960 as an export house for home goods and established his first—still standing—store in 1976 in South Delhi’s Greater Kailash market. After his son William took over in the nineties, Fabindia grew exponentially and now counts 87 stores nationwide.
Anticipating a surge of interest in artisan-driven products and global fashion, Fabindia combined the two, paving the way for smaller (and higher-end) clothing and home accessories stores like Anokhi, Soma, and Ogaan. And the company’s business model—marked by its commitment to local artisans and entrepreneurs and its emphasis on profit and growth—is so unusual, Harvard Business School commissioned a study of it.
If there’s anything wrong with Fabindia, it’s that the stores can be rather jumbled and the designs a bit more functional than fashionable. But the branch housed in a two-story building in Delhi’s bustling Khan market has the best of the company’s clothes, as well as beauty products and a new jewelry collection.
Boxy Western designs are the most popular clothes among Indians, but visitors will appreciate the swingy skirts made with the printed and hand-painted fabric called kalamkari, hip-length tunics (short kurtas for men or kameezes for women) with Chinese collars, and churidars, cotton pants that are wide at the top, then narrow and bunched up toward the ankle (best worn Stateside like leggings with a long shirt instead of with the traditional knee-length kameez). The store also carries appliquéd linens, Rajasthani block prints, and a great selection of material for curtains, which can be made on-site. Cheerful cotton-print kids’ clothing and block-print, embroidered, appliquéd, and handwoven pillow covers are great gifts. Located above shop numbers 20 and 21, Central Hall, Khan Market; fabindia.com