Neelgar is a brand involved in the development of traditional Indian crafts and bringing it to a level where it can go hand in hand with todays world of fashion.
Founded in the year 2005 by Kamaldeep Kaur, Neelgar product line includes silk scarves, stoles, sarees, shawls and a varied collection of garments.
Kamaldeep before starting with her career, did a 2 year diploma course in fashion designing from New Delhi. After her diploma, she worked as a designer for design development projects for ministry of textiles before for almost a decade before starting off with Neelgar.
She did extensive ground level research on Shibori and Bandhani techniques which later became her forte of expertise. In 2003-2004, Kamaldeep was also invited for a Natural dye research program by NID, to share the practical experiences she had gained during the eight years of practicing natural dyes.
On hearing the brand name,
I was really curious to know the reason behind such a name ‘Neelgar’ and the story behind it is really fascinating.
“During the earlier parts of my career, I travelled extensively in small villages of India and was working closely with natural dyes. I was fascinated with the colour blue” said Karandeep
She was so much fascinated with the colour Indigo that for almost 6 years straight, she wore no other colour than Indigo and the people had started calling her Neelkamal instead of Kamaldeep!
The major USP of the brand is the authentic use of articles and the expert craftsmanship which never fails to startle all. Also, some of her signature techniques inlcude Block prints, Lehriya, Shibori and Bandani.
She always knew as to how the foreigners are keenly interested in handmade products as so many countries have lost those cultures long back. She introduced the collection which was immensely applauded by everyone abroad.
“I didn’t face major struggle in reaching to the market of India as my work was already being applauded in the international market” quotes Karandeep.
After working Internationally for almost 12 years, when she started focusing on Indian market in last 4-5 years, she was a bit skeptical about acceptance to her minimalist approach to design. As India is all about decorating and filling up clothes with heavy embroidery. But her clients were amazed by the quality of bandhani that team NEELGAR showcased.
Block printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper.
Leheria (or leheriya) on the other hand, is a traditional style of tie dye practiced in Rajasthan, India that results in brightly colored cloth with distinctive patterns. The technique gets its name from the Rajasthani word for wave because the dyeing technique is often used to produce complex wave patterns.
Bandhani is a type of tie-dye textile decorated by plucking the cloth with the fingernails into many tiny bindings that form a figurative design. The term bandhani is derived from the Sanskrit.
Today, most Bandhani making centers are situated in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sindh, Punjab region and in Tamil Nadu where it is known as Sungudi.
Kamaldeep has also created a demand for Bandani and has infact created a fashion trend in the market. The fabric is now used for shawls, wraps and scarves and is often featured in fashion shows
“Bandani has always been made by the women folk even from before to supplement their husband’s income” adds Kamaldeep.
Kamaldeep has showcased her work in 25+ countries through design and museum shows. She has also been invited across the world to give workshops about the special techniques practiced and developed by her in the field of Shibori, Block Printing and Bandhani using natural dyes.
Kamaldeep strongly believe that it is very important to develop craft education and reinvent the market for handmade products.