Heritage Indian craftsmanship is at the heart of this unique London-based luxury resortwear brand.
Each piece is hand-worked by skilled artisans in Jaipur, Lucknow and Delhi using ancient embroidery and embellishment techniques that have been passed down through the centuries.
Embroidered viscose jumpsuits and wrap-dresses are enlivened with gold and silver Zari thread, dating back to the Moghul era, while silk and chiffon robes and dresses feature delicate Chikankari hand-embroidery from Lucknow in northern India.
For more than four centuries, Chikankari fine needlework artisans have embroidered white thread on light, pastel garments made from gossamer silk fabrics, muslin and cotton, suited for the hot and humid summers of the region. Originally a Persian craft brought to India during the Moghul Empire, Chikankari embroidery typically adorned the costumes of the ruling elite, and the designs today still often feature Moghul motifs. The name is derived from Persian and means “wrought with needle work”.
Historic Lucknow remains the heart of the Chikan handicraft industry, which nowadays specialises in creating fashion garments mostly using fabrics like cotton, georgette, crepe, chiffon and silk. The embroidery is also done with coloured and silk threads to meet changing fashion trends. The fabric cannot be too thick, otherwise the needle won’t be able to pierce it. A pattern is block-printed on the ground fabric, which is then stitched by the embroiderer before the finished piece is carefully washed to remove all traces of the printed pattern. The whole intricate process can take months to complete.
By incorporating precious Chikankari embroidery into its western-style designs, SOMI is helping to keep this ancient craft alive. In the same way, the brand has also chosen to work with Zari artisans in Jaipur, and its stylish pieces are adorned with exquisite Zari thread, one of the most famous and elaborate techniques in metal embroidery. Traditionally made of fine gold or silver, the modernised metallic version is used to create elaborate brocade borders, which are then typically sewn onto saris, kurtas and dhotis.
Other delicate embroidery and embellishments are done by hand in the SOMI factory in Delhi, using centuries-old techniques to create unique pieces for the discerning modern woman.