What Customisation Owes To The Independent Woman?

Whether it’s dressing for a festival run by the National Guard under the command of the Crown Prince, which involves traditional music, folk dancing and a spectacular camel race or a Caribbean carnival, on the street and mad, in the nicest possible way, you can define perfection and luxury with the advent of coded couture, that has taken the fancy of Google these days. 
 A. Fashion Customisation Wired In An App
The Independent report has spilled out exciting trivia this month- “Google has teamed up with H&M digital fashion house Ivyrevel to create dresses inspired by phone users’ personal data.

 The project, called ‘Coded Couture’, uses an Android app designed to monitor multiple aspects of a user’s lifestyle, including travel routes, dinner spots, daily routine and the weather around them.

This information is gathered over the course of a week, and used to create a ‘Data Dress’ starting at $99.


It gathers data from a phone’s sensors, and is capable of working out whether the user is walking or driving and if their headphones are plugged in, as well as their location and weather conditions.

Materials, colours and details will also be dictated by the data.”

The trend of custom made luxury products goes a long way back in India when the Indian royalty made their eclectic, extravagant presence felt on the map of global fashion trends with their commissioned specialities making news and the ateliers proud. In 1926, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala sent a trunk full of precious gems to Cartier wanting them to be remounted in Parisian style, and the result was the world famous, one-off Patiala necklace. In 1925, the polo loving ruler of Jammu & Kashmir, Hari Singh, ordered several customised trunks from Louis Vuitton for his polo outfits and equipment, including one specially designed for his mallets.

B. Bag The Hot Comfort Deal

An Australian startup featured in Business Insider lets women design their own handbags from over six billion combinations called Mon Purse.

It doesn’t get much cooler than designing your own handbag. Just ask Mon Purse founder Lana Hopkins who turned a fruitless search for the perfect bag into a multi-million dollar business in just a couple years.


“I realized I spent far too many hours pounding the pavement, looking for theperfect bag,” Hopkins told Business Insider. “I wanted to solve this personal problem and I had a vision — to create an elegant, state-of-the-art bag builder, and then follow it up with high-quality bespoke creations delivered to directly to customer’s doors. So, I traveled the world in 2014 looking for the best tanneries and ateliers, hand-selecting quality leathers and raw materials, and employing skilled craftsmen. I also found some great software engineers to turn my vision into reality.”

Using Mon Purse’s state-of-the-art, 3D design tool that has more than sixbillioncombinations, anyone can now create the leather handbag of their dreams. You’re able to fully customize it — the leathers, colors, finishes, hardware, interior, and monogram — and immediately see what the final product will look like through a 3D rendering.

The company let me try its proprietary 3D design tool for the purposes of this review, and I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun reviewing a product. I had so many options before me, and I didn’t know where to start. I checked out Mon Purse’s Instagram feedfor inspiration. I tried the tool on all of the different bag styles you’re able to customize and, finally, after much thought, decided to create my own bowler bag. I wanted this bag to be one I could use every day for work — it’s business out the outside with a grainy black leather exterior, and party on the inside with a fuchsia suede lining.

Have a look at the entire design process from start to checkout, or begin designing your own Mon Purse bag here.

The base prices of Mon Purse’s “design your own” collection are as follows: Bowler Bag ($380 for mini or $480 for classic), Bucket Bag ($380), Clutch ($230), Pouch ($65 for small or $75 for large), Shopper Bag ($330 for mini or $430 for classic), and Tote Bag ($480).

If you’re also someone who invests in their purses and has struggled to find a bag that has everything you want, there’s something to be said for creating the bag of your dreams for the same price. It’s actually kind of a no-brainer when put that way.

C. Yours truly, monogrammed shoes

From having the colour and pattern of your bridal outfit match with your custom-made shoes to ordering moccasins to go with your monogrammed luggage pieces, there is a whole lot to experiment with as luxury brands listed below go on a customization spree, so go ahead and make yourself heard with every click of those made-to-order heels.


Reflecting on this, Patrick Normand, MD, Cartier, Middle East, India and North Africa has been quoted as saying, “These beautiful objects know no rivals, no copies, and give their owners the euphoric feeling of having played a major part in creating a work of art. It’s not anymore the years of ‘crazy 90’s’ whereanything branded would sell.”


Christian Louboutin has set up the Wedding Suite, one of its kind in the world, at Louboutin’s Horniman Circle boutique in Mumbai, which offers severalcustomization services to the Indian bride. While finding shoes and bags to match the bridal trousseau is one thing to do there, what is more exciting is to get a consultation to customize the style, colour, heel height or even replicate the embroidery of the bridal outfit [or your initials] on a pair of your favourite Louboutin heels.With meticulous embroidery done under the umbrage of the famous Jean-François Lesage, this service is a truly decadent one for the discerning client.

Italian luxury brand Salvatore Ferragamo had a lot of publicity going around the ‘Shoes for a Star’ project whereby the brand gifted a pair of custom-made Tramezza to Abhishek Bachhan, and a pair of Sage peep-toes to Sonam Kapoor.

Following this is Ferragamo’s initiative called MTO Driver (MTO stands for “made-to-order”) which lets men customize the brand’s driving loafers as per their choice – from the design to details like material, colour, finish, the leather and the laces, to imprinting the buyer’s initials on the soles. There are about a hundred permutations possible with myriad options of upper body, sole construct, and hallmark Gancio metal hardware. While your own imagination isthe limit there is a waiting time of eight to twelve weeks until delivery and the price ranges around $750. But the process makes it an easy, interactive one as it requires you to log on to the Ferragamo’s dedicated MTO Driver page and customise your shoe virtually, then submit the order online and collect the shoes at the nearest Salvatore Ferragamo boutique. Signature style and iconic value blend in beautifully with this MTO service which also reinvigorated demand for customised Vara or Varina ballerinas for the ladies.

On similar lines, there’s Tiesta to offer you 3D designer tool for online customisation and payment right on the whim of your fingertips.

Can the haute couture Gods pair up with Google to reinvent fashion ? There’d be a crazy bunch of answers queued to debate that.

The curated labels can pick the rightful good from this strategy because ‘Customer is the King’, afterall! Hope you’re geared up for this tech-savvy, eclectic venture.

Drop in your favourite word.


Sana Husain


The Green Park Fix

The week ends and a crazy weekend escape is on everyone’s checklist.

To catch up on fresh vibes, and perhaps warm Sun, do you ever look around ?

Be it your personal or work anxieties, there’s one real-time fix for all, called “The Green Park Fix”.

Lace it up. Wave out to the trees.

What’s more?

Bangalore has an answer to everything.

I am humming green.

Are you?

The Frilled Romance

Out of the same block-coloured or plain pieces that you might pick every morning, you should let your style flirt and flow like the frills.

Yes, let’s get you sorted for Valentine’s. For some thrill, you ought to have frills!

Don your frilly best attire from the curated list here.

1. Chic brunch


2. The classic date


3. Dark Knight is your armor


4. Peachier gala


5. Sassy princess pride


6. Flash for paparazzi


7. Been to La La Land


8. A hue of distressed damsel


9. & 10.Über cool saree


Hope to hear about your choice soon.



The Aion Moment

I was caught into the world music Jazz chamber, where the music notes recreated movie scenes from an epic like Arabian Nights.

The Arabian mystic was well done , as per the theme assorted by the Swiss band, Aion Quartet.The four artistes brought the worldly charm in their performance, as they touched the Indian chords, rather than playing their native elements. There, I was impressed by their vice-versa deal.

The aura maintained a way of Turkish winds blowing and ghungroo sound accompanying it. It was a night of a string of moments lost in sweet struggle of music and quietude.

As you may observe, the red-haired player and the ease of instruments weighed in on the stage, a pool of emotions unfurl before your eyes, breathing into one music set, through them.


If your water is devoid of taste, a drop of Aion will help you attain Nirvana.

In my midnight musings, I’d love to point out the sparkle of Sitar, that’s rarely marked in Indian hits, these days.

“Prince of Persia”, claimed the bassist and the enchanted audience cheered louder.

By the gradual rhythm of conclusion, music took the usual Swiss beats course, which one of the band mates refused to acknowledge.

The soft, sad and transcending jazz satiated everyone’s appetite till its last beat.

In the most abstract sense, it can be perceived as a gazelle jumping into music, performed by Aion.

Here’s my Aion Moment: When the bassist smiled at the flutehorn player, the latter infused the deep, distant melody into the Quartet show.




Runway time, is it?

The lady is sitting uptight on her chair across the runway. Twice, she checks her cellphone beeping in the black Louis Vuitton.

No wonder she has business meetings lined up that morning, but her insatiable appetite for fashion has her clinging onto the flowing dresses crafted by the prominent Indian designer, Manish Malhotra.

Hopelessly, yet beautifully, the fast fashion trend is sweeping everyone off their feet. You can now sit in your nightsuit and still be a part of a fancy fashion week setting, as observed in the following virtual reality show featuring Manish Malhotra, like this lady.


The reinvention of fashion marketplace can be understood upfront with the exemplar set by Daniel Vosovic, a designer who’s trying to keep his business afloat, while others in the industry are struggling.

About two and a half years ago, after five years of producing traditional seasonal collections under his eponymous clothing label, his frustrations led him to an epiphany of sorts. He describes a feeling many of us will probably find relatable: “It was a seed of doubt that’s in your stomach that maybe you know that you shouldn’t be at that job, that you’re dating the wrong person, maybe you know that just something is wrong. I’m a very proactive person, and there was something in me over the course of, like, six months… It got louder and louder, and I realized that I was on a hamster wheel that I just wasn’t loving anymore. I felt very reactive to what stores wanted me to design; I was frustrated with the editorial restrictions of lead times and not being able to capture the energy of maybe a great celebrity placement, because often times they would wear the coolest, weirdest thing, which is not the thing that’s picked up by a retailer,” he explains. A few weeks before he was scheduled to show his fall 2014 collection, he drew a line in the sand: “I called my team over and I said ‘Guys, we’re gonna pause,’ and they were like, ‘What are you talking about?’ and I was like, ‘We’re going to pause this collection.’ And I remember thinking, I don’t know what my next step is but I’m going to stop doing what I don’t feel is right anymore. It was such a scary thing as a business owner, especially when you have people who rely on you for their rent money and their food and I’ve worked so hard to establish a name.”
So, after experimenting with a few incremental shifts — skipping NYFW, going direct-to-consumer — Vosovic decided that instead of making small adjustments, he should start over entirely. “It was a really interesting thing to say, ‘Daniel, make the choice before it’s made for you.'” He describes this process using the metaphor of objects on a table: “Did I still like fashion? Yes, back on the table. Did I still love New York? Yes, back on the table. Did I love the traditional wholesale model? You know what? That’s not going back on the table right now.”
After discussions with his production partner Resonance Companies revealed that the latter had similar frustrations on the manufacturing side of, uh, the table, they worked together to find a solution to the “broken” fashion cycle. And what they’ve come up with does pretty much solve every issue I’ve heard a designer complain about: In a vertically integrated facility in the Dominican Republic, Vosovic can produce designer-quality items in just about any color or print and in any quantity, with a lead time as short as two weeks. If that business model sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the one employed by fast-fashion retailers like Zara and Boohoo. Brands across the spectrum have long struggled trying to compete with those retailers; even mid-market companies like Gap and Uniqlo have been trying to restructure their supply chains to become similarly nimble. But Vosovic may be the first to do it on the designer level. “We’ve built an entirely new business model using insane technology and great machinery that allows me to do stuff that I normally would be selling for $750, $800, $900, that I can have a great margin and sell to our customers for $395. And it’s the same beautiful craftsmanship; we’re printing on the same machines that Hermès uses.”
The fast-fashion comparison only extends to the production model; Vosovic isn’t trying to instantly shill runway trends; rather, “The Kit” is about versatility and ease and simplifying the process of getting dressed. It launched Tuesday with a low-key slip dress and a top in two different silhouettes and a variety of prints. New prints and silhouettes will launch every few weeks. There will even be “themed” kits, like a beach kit, a first-date kit and maybe even a “meeting your mother in law for the first time” kit. “The idea is everything, all at once, in a single kit.” Vosovic says both the concept and name were inspired by Donna Karan’s original seven easy pieces. He also didn’t “want to add to this culture of blatant consumerism.” He does, however, want to be able to respond quickly to a style or color his customers are showing an interest in, an iconic pop culture moment — he cited Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” — or a celebrity wearing one of his designs. He calls it “design now, wear now.”
He also has the flexibility (and creative energy) to decide on a whim how he wants to promote a new style, perhaps calling up one of his photographer or videographer to do a spur-of-the-moment shoot to put on his site and social media accounts. It’s clear that “The Kit” wasn’t just a business decision; it was also a personal one. “I literally love coming to work,” says Vosovic, “because I get to play.”

Resonance Companies has already begun working with other brands who want to leverage its nimble, vertically integrated production capabilities, and naturally you wonder if this seasonless, direct-to-consumer, quick-response model is the way of the future. Vosovic is probably correct in feeling that unlike this industry’s past, there ultimately won’t be just one way to do things. He compares it to the television industry, where network, cable, satellite and streaming models are all able to survive harmoniously.
If anything has become very clear as designers left and right proceed to move their shows to different cities, different times of the year, switch up the seasons that are shown to the public, hold runway images until six months after the fact and everything in between — while new brands constantly pop up promising transparency, fair prices and ethical production — it’s that designers have finally realized they’re not all beholden to the same (broken) system. I think it’s safe to say that Vosovic’s won’t be the only big brand restart of 2017.

Get rid of cost trap bugs with digital distribution

Processes within the fashion industry are inefficient, Ivan Herjavec says, general manager at the wholesale platform Buying Show (www.buyingshow.com). Structures and processes that are outdated need to be overcome – a breakdown of the fashion industry’s five most striking problems.
1. Planning processes that are outdated
A lack of proper planning processes – too long lead times when ordering or at the production site – is a big issue within the fashion industry. Planning processes did not change in decades. An example for good time management is Zara. A vertical brand, Zara occupies the fast fashion market that takes the latest designs from the runway and immediately turns them into fashion trends. The very reason for that is that nowadays consumers ‘ expectations towards shopping are higher. On their twelve shopping sprees a year on average, they want to explore new things every single time. To meet these requirements, brands do need better planning processes that include product development, production as well as marketing and distribution, aligned with the market and actively communicated to consumers.
2. Digitalise your distribution
Slow and expensive product development processes result from outdated communication channels between brands and manufacturers. To this day, brands will initially develop expensive samples or prototypes for the entire collection to be showcased at fairs, in showrooms, or by the sales force and sent across the globe. But only those pieces that are ordered during these processes will be actually produced. Hence, product testing takes several months from the idea to the production of samples up to the retailers’ order that eventually determines the extent of production. Those processes occur two or three times a year offering not too many opportunities for retailers and brands to exchange ideas. Moreover, selection and order processes of retailers are complex and take long. More often than not, it takes brands weeks to receive a definite order by retailers since they need to make a choice in showrooms and the order needs to be confirmed, too. The brands on the other hand can only place an order with their producers when all orders by the retailers are received.
3. High costs in sales department
The B2B sales process is too short and too expensive: At the beginning of the year, every order for the upcoming season needs to be processed in a very short time window. In order to do so, brands need to expand their sales force to cover a bigger fraction of the market. Then again, those sales teams need lots of samples and they have to travel a lot which produces high costs. Add to that expenses for showrooms in various cities where they can meet up with clients. All those activities produce additional costs.
Almost every brand misses the opportunity to sell its collection during the season to its clients, the retailers. Interested parties cannot look at a brand’s inventory. They know only what is available by request. Brands with remaining stocks can only get rid of them through extensive acquisition. There is a lack of efficient processes and technical support to make additional sales more profitable. Selling of the goods gets pricy until in the very end, margins are barely existent and goods are sold at dumping prices to outlets in the far east for instance.
4. Risks due to order cancellation
It might take half a year between the placing of an order and shipment which leads to a high level of risk: Retailers can cancel their orders that already had been forwarded by the brand to its producers. Also, there is the risk that the brand cancels orders for various reasons. Both parties incur a risk. In case of a cancellation, retailers have to find another brand or product category whereas brands need to find other retailers for this very order.
5. Lack of money
The time gap between order, shipment and sale of goods are quite a big problem for the fashion industry for brands usually need to pay producers up front and only in a best case scenario 30 days after receiving the goods. The average delivery time from the factory to the warehouse is 30-60 days. This means that goods that arrive at the brands’ warehouses are either paid for or are about to be paid for.
Retailers expect term of payments of 30 to 90 days, starting with the receipt of invoice (usually the date of shipment from brand to retailer). This means that brands are financing the deal 30 to 120 days in advance (sometimes even beyond that stretch), incurring a high level of risk. Retailers as well need 90 days on average to sell so many goods that their costs are covered.

No worries mate. The optimistic vibe is still in the air. “Bringing fashion immediately from catwalk to checkout marks a new era for the fashion industry,” said Pernilla Wohlfahrt, H&M’s head of design and creative director. “We’re very much looking forward to testing this exciting new format. We also want to share this moment with our customers, so we’ll be showing the fashion show live on our web site.”
Johansson said there are drawbacks to see-now-buy-now and admitted that by offering H&M Studio for sale immediately after the runway show, consumers will have less time to discover the collection. One month prior to the runway show, on Feb. 1, H&M planned to offer an overview of 16 looks on its web site to give consumers an idea of what they’ll see on the catwalk.
If you like to keep your feet out of the dirty picture, be wary of the fast fashion scandals, like the one here.

Last summer, Los Angeles illustrator Tuesday Bassen filed a lawsuit against ZARA over multiple clothing pieces sold by the retailer, featuring illustrations similar to those made by the California-based artist. In August last year Aurora James – founder and Creative Director of emerging made in Africaaccessories brand Brother Vellies – took to Instagram and published an open letter on I-D’s website. She came across a pair of ZARA faux fur sandals, seemingly inspired by a Brother Vellies design.
As opposed to battling things out in court, Ruben Galarreta, an emerging name in Spanish fashion circles, believes that teamwork makes the dream work. “Fast-fashion retailers and emerging designers can co-exist because they complement each other. I believe everybody loves to have a diverse wardrobe; so mixing fast-fashion pieces with unique designer pieces makes sense. Obviously, young up-and-coming designers can’t compete with the major fast-fashion retailers when it comes to casual garments – especially in terms of pricing and production numbers. They (fast-fashion retailers) retail directly to customers on a global scale, producing millions of units. Young designers might produce in thousands while selling through boutiques. So our advantage is exclusivity.”
As the creative energies merge into one domain, plagiarism hardly holds true. It’s a matter of who shows first, does first or catches the worm first.

So, are you getting the fast fashion fragrance for your wardrobe?

Review: SA Fashion Week SS’16


The five-day Spring-Summer 2016 fashion week held at Johannesburg in South Africa bloomed in various shades of traditional African, typical west and was somewhere electrifyingly bizarre.

The international models with blonde hair fixed in a ponytail were more in comparison to the local ones with short black hair, sashaying around the season’s collection on the runway.

For a lady’s wardrobe, the designer, Gert-Johan Coetzee had played around with his mind patterns, as reflected in lacey dresses, either moving in black, suede and yellow color palette or in the beautiful white and blue combinations, grabbed right from the sky. “The 70s inspired Bohemian style met the grown up sophistication.” A similar streak was observed in the label called “Non-European”. SAFWSS’16 looked fine as long as apparel was displayed in earthy colors, with a touch of prints. The earthy colors define the summer better in Africa, as reflected in their collection.

Rubicon, Judith Atelier and JJ Schoeman rightly dressed their female models in whites and hues of cream, thus shifting to the summer gear. Alongside, some designs stemmed from the tribal sphere of Africa, sporting dark colors, with strokes of red, blue and green sparingly splashed across.

The good show actually began, with the entry of elegant, soft Lumin fabrics, inspired by the aviation scene. “It was the retro Lufthansa air hostess uniform from the 70s.” Then, Brand Keys upped the glamour quotient by bringing in more vibrancy on the ramp. The short and sheer pieces, glimmering in pink and nude shades stole the show.

There came tagging along the chic African street style, with better accessories, pertaining to the traditional hat, hand purse and appealing prints, from Miah. “Flowy pastel silhouettes with a pop of print tell the African style story.” Esmoko has finely blended the traditional African prints into the men’s collection. Adding to that, Liz Ogumbo captured the essence of old African beauties and the evolving urban ones in her designs, which was clearly visible from head to toe of the models.

For Anmari Honiball, her set of apparel announced the arrival of a riot of colors. When it came to Erre, the sheer, light and floral pieces actually made one’s fingers itch to buy.

The fashion week had its share of lows, consisting of bizarre pairings, such as denim jackets thrown on dressy pieces or denim tops tucked in shimmering bronze under forest green attires. It also saw geisha inspired collection, using odd designs woven into disorganized cuts, which weren’t well suited to summer.  Also, lots of black was seen on the runway, as if not really thinking through it.

When men’s collection was showcased, a series of bizarre moments hovered for a little while longer. The clothes designed for the effeminate men by Jerri Mokgofe and a twist in the formal suits for summer given by Afrikanswiss are a few instances of the same. After which Dope’s clothing line, built upon the Tennis wear theme, was disappointing.

However, Missober spelled the Summer-Spring collection the best, encompassing beautiful, bright and bold colors in its numerous A-line dresses. “The fashion week is a celebration of luxury of African designers, displaying sunny hues crafted with cutting edge detailing.


Links to SA Fashion Week SS’16:













Check it out

City’s libraries struggle for survival in digital age

By Sana Husain| 18 March, 2016

Gone are the days when everyone used to regularly visit a library as if it was a religious ritual. Today, books have been replaced by mobile phones or other gadgets that have reduced it to a mobile application and even computer software. The relationship between the reader and the tactile book has changed, as readers prefer accessing it at the touch of their fingertip.

In 2011, when Amazon’s Kindle Fire, an e-reader entered the market, there was a sharp spike in its sales. This is where the reading experience changed altogether. According to The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, those who didn’t own any e-book reading devices said that either they don’t need or want one, can’t afford one or they just prefer printed books.

Faced with growing technological options and decreasing attention spans, lending libraries struggle against obsolescence in the digital age.

In the face of this anomaly, British Library sells more than just books, such as DVDs like Agatha Christie’s “The Seven Dials Mystery”, Pride and Prejudice, ‘Walking With Dinosaurs, Best of British Classic Comedy to Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, that are stacked neatly in one row below the other. Its view enthralls one’s eyes.

The books organized at the book stands tagged as “Contemporary UK”, “Arts”, “Management”, “Fiction”, “Literature”, “ELT collection” seem to be a beautiful treasure, handpicked and organized into one layer of the building.

On the opposite side are rows of tables where old men and college students work on laptops or read a thick literature classic, like The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

The typical library setup is made interesting with the secluded little corner for kids, floored with blue mat and colourful bean bags and toys, to suit the reader’s comfort zone.

Leighton Ernsberger, assistant director Bengaluru and skills said that the Indian Council for Cultural Relations is the legal parent of British Library. It runs as a charity, where membership suffices for the running costs.

To supplement its finances, or rather “Making room for new things”, said Leighton, British Library sells about 20,000-25,000 old books for a considerably lesser price. They increase readership by updating resources online and thereby, providing a database of 1,30,000 books.

Fifty to sixty per cent renewal of memberships is observed every year, at British Library.

Apart from conducting reading challenge/ book-review contests for children and workshops on topics like Shakespeare’s play, that form a recurring part of the routine, the events are centred around the anniversaries of important personalities or subject.

To draw readers to the library, 2016 was marked as the Shakespeare year, celebrating his death anniversary and not just one day in the month of April.

According to Ugandhar, assistant manager at British Library, the readers in Bangalore want to buy more instead of borrowing books from the library.


Sanveer Singh‏@sanveer23

Torn between libraries in Bangalore – JustBooks, British Library or both.

6:39 AM – 1 Oct 2015


A red and robust structure stands tall amidst the vast, lush green stretches of Cubbon Park.

This is State Central Library, a product of public ownership, originally built in memory of Diwan Sir Seshadri Iyer, the Diwan of Mysore. It has units in all the districts of Karnataka.

Raghu, an engineer who said he reads everything, has been a patron at State Central Library for 20 years talks about its drawbacks: “This place doesn’t allow using laptop, even after having the infrastructure. Their indexing is bad. Every time, I have to spell the name of the book.”

He visits Alliance Francaise library more than the State Central Library. “Here, the bulk of readership is formed by students and 20 percent is comprised of by other kind of readers. International readers can be rarely seen here,” he added.

In the suburbs of HSR Layout is a unique library called Discover Kids.

In the play area, a mother is sitting inside a small fancy playhouse while her children play around it.

Main area of the library forms the study room, where children productively invest their time in the summer vacation. In the adjacent room, an art class is in progress.

Amidst the bustle in the busy space, is Shubha Issini, the owner of Discover Kids. A private establishment that she started 10 years ago with 1,000 books, it now has a collection of more than 8,000 books. With membership plans for three months, six months and one year, it charges Rs.400 per month. To keep the library afloat, she runs the library, by combining other fun and creative pursuits, to sustain readership amongst children. This is a stand-alone library, meant for the young, developing readers, that hasn’t stopped drawing attention from various parts of the city.

“The purpose for starting this concept originated from the love for reading and children,” said Shubha, adding that customers visit as often as every 10 days.

Saturdays consists of storytelling activities with guests for poetry-reading and book reading sessions.

The library has employed permanent teachers at Discover Kids and also allows parents to volunteer as teachers there. Not only that, but there are also books for adults in a different shelf.

Being at par with the tech-savvy world, they’ve “software of books for children, where they can check in and check out on the system, after scanning the barcode of the book they are interested in,” told Deepa, the librarian at Discover Kids.

“Older children are quickly growing out of libraries, unlike the younger ones,” added Shubha.

“Lending libraries are an integral part of the city life,” said Aruni, a mother of three kids at the library.

Although schools encourage reading habits, “In schools, the library period is only weekly and just for an hour,” chipped in Maria, Aruni’s daughter. In school, they don’t get to choose any book that they want. The books are segregated class-wise, where the qualified librarian decides for the children a particular section to read from. Due to these limitations, such libraries still stand strong and appeal better to children.  Aruni finds Discover Kids “soothing and homely” and Prarthana, another child, who has been visiting the library for the past five years said, “I love the environment here. It’s playful, fun and enjoyable.”

The trendsetter in Bengaluru is a chain of libraries, named “Just Books.”

Just Books franchise owner, Suresh Warrier, looks after two libraries, one in RR Nagar and another in Banashankari, in Bengaluru.

“Somebody who felt Bengaluru didn’t have good libraries, seven years back in Indiranagar, started more of a neighbourhood library, and spread it throughout India,” said Suresh.

Accessible to only the members, the privately funded library uses the motto “Rent, Read and Return.”

The library fee varies, starting from Rs. 300, depending upon the number of books the members want to take at once.

He said that the first segment of their consumers is formed by children studying in kindergarten up to high school. Keeping in mind their financial status, conscientious parents don’t want an influence of technology on their children. The second segment comprises of older people above 45 years of age, who aren’t keen on reading on Kindle. This implies that a large chunk of the population still relies on libraries instead of the digital versions of books.

A strategy to hook the readers, “We predominantly bring Indian authors to talk about their books, as part of the activities of engaging the readers; whereas international authors go to bigger book stores. Even non-members can join in during this,” said Suresh.

In the age group of 18-35 years, there are lesser readers because one tends to be busy with other things, such as college activities and then later working and getting settled in life becomes a priority. There, reading takes a backseat. After crossing that stage in their lives, they realize they need to spend time with themselves. In certain cases, parents read out to their children in summers. Despite the fast-paced life in the cosmopolitan Bengaluru, Just Books enjoys a large share of its readers, from almost all age groups, at some point of time in their lives.

Chanda Jadhav, a retired principal living in Bangalore, remembers visiting a library in her childhood in Mumbai.

“Of people who visit libraries have decreased due to the technology factor,” said Chanda. For her, another factor is time..

“A housewife like my 58-year-old sister is an active member at a library in Pune. She still visits it regularly. I was tied down by work in school and never had time to visit any,” Chanda explained.

However, she said she thinks lending libraries won’t fade out, as there still are children and grown-ups who prefer reading actual books over their electronic versions: “One who can’t afford books will always visit the library.”

Alifiya Saifee, a Bengaluru homemaker who has been an active member at Just Books for the past five years, said, “In my childhood, going to a library was a luxury. Hence, I used to borrow from friends. Also, parents stressed more on the exchange.”

She said that she prefers Just Books 90 per cent of the time because the adults’ books are constantly updated, unlike with children’s collection.

She added that with the lending library facility, parents are able to divert their child’s attention and prevent them from just sitting in front of TV.

Dr. R. Rajesh, a sociology professor at Bangalore University, said that libraries can sustain themselves by providing exclusive research content, which has to be otherwise paid for online or subscribed to. Also, in rural areas, people aren’t technologically-equipped enough to access e-libraries. Every system serves particular needs; hence these lending libraries won’t be completely out of the picture.

Parents equate reading habit to good academic performance. As the literacy rate is improving, the tradition of lending libraries shall continue, perhaps, evolving with new technological strokes of perfection. Situated in different parts of the city, these libraries continue to serve many, while struggling to survive in the digital times. Today, the readers are pampered with numerous choices, on different platforms, still they prefer libraries “..as people love the smell of the book. They want to insert a bookmark in it, keep it on the chest, which people still prefer to do,” said Suresh.

 The story was originally published in The Beat magazine.

Read here: http://thebeatmagazine.in/18_03_2016_library_sana.html