“The raw, pure-white hue of undyed fabric is our favourite colour.”
Born and raised in Mumbai, founder Sonal Shroff comes from a management background, with design - an inborn aptitude. She delights in collecting art and décor pieces from all over the world, often borrowing influence from their places of origin. Aion Homes materialised soon after she studied interiors in Italy. What started as a homeware brand grew to include clothing that outlined a notion of simple and classy living.
Meet the Founder!
On her Relationship with Design
Raw elements in nature, and the Japanese ideology of ‘wabi-sabi’, or the acceptance of imperfection, shapes her forms. “Finding beauty in everything is kind of a motto I live by.” She describes her aesthetic as minimal, clean and functional.
She continues to marvel at the concept of upcycling, busting the myth of the ‘overuse’ of a garment. “Little did we know that we can keep using a piece of fabric from a dress to a skirt to sleeves to a pouch! There is so much you can do with the right guidance.”
Sonal associates a feeling of satisfaction with her green practice, urging people to set a precedent all the while donning a lovely conversation starter.
On Staying Motivated
She invokes the wabi-sabi ideology in other aspects of her life as well, developing a healthy relationship with the highs and lows, and the great unknown. “Things fall apart and we rebuild them, binding together what is left with hope and aspirations. This ideology helps me find a new path ahead.”
On Personal Interests
She hopes to publish a coffee table book of recipes someday. She enjoys cooking and regards it a therapeutic escape. “It is a stress buster for me. I experiment with food and develop recipes. Cooking for and entertaining friends and family is very special to me. The food, drinks, table set up, decor all need to match the cuisine.”
(Above: Candice Shirt)
Sonal emphasises that pieces from Aion can be styled for all destinations that we wish to visit or revisit. Deep backs and plunging necklines, high collars and balloon sleeves - there’s something for everyone (and everywhere!) She stands by a gospel truth, that fashion is global but style is personal. “How one wears an Aion product will bring out their sense of style. White represents peace, it’s something we all need in our lives, now more than ever and forever.”
The brand sources surplus cotton fabrics from textile factories in Mumbai - only selecting undyed white pure cotton fabrics for their clothing collections. The fabric is pre-shrunk to avoid shrinkage after the first few washes. Such fabric is useful in creating precise cutting measurements.
The zero-waste process is in itself a mode of inspiration to Sonal. Interacting with waste fabric sparks ideas in her. She envisions hair accessories, patchwork, table mats and lace trims. When asked about the challenge with working with a lone colour, she says, “Monotony. I see white everyday and it creates a lot of confusion, but to make it classy and well-designed requires skill.” And the light, airy silhouettes are an impressive testament to the fact.
She describes the product as designs that will never phase out, with great comfort and fit. Immense effort goes into the start-to-end process from naming to finishing, and the team’s research includes everything, trendspotting, colour use and fabric selection for the relevant collection.
“A way of life.” Using brass, copper, stainless crockery, and trading hand-me-downs were commonplace practices around her growing up. Milk in glass bottles instead of plastic sachets and using newspapers to wrap articles while transporting. A mere continuation into her brand and its values, Sonal has never known a wasteful lifestyle.
On embarking on a journey of sustainability as a small business, she has a few takeaways. It starts from day one, and the inception stage is all-imperative in laying down a sustainable framework. “Why wouldn't you want a piece to last you a lifetime, if not more? Imagine creating an idea and saying goodbye long before you live to appreciate it! Now imagine thinking of creating a piece, wearing it, and passing it down to the next generation.” Knowledge is power. Being aware of the environmental implications the decomposition of a material poses must eventually catapult an entrepreneur into taking action.
Empowering the underprivileged
Woven into the brand ethos, giving those around her a life of respect has been important to Sonal parallel to building her brand. “From the beginning to the stage we are at now, I wanted to help people who needed my help the most. While I consciously employed our house help for packaging, I also offered their families jobs according to their skill and talent. I have never differentiated my employees according to their gender, but I do tend to show love to women who come to me and be part of our brand.”
Future Plans and Social Media
“With every collection and season, we have a certain look that we like to follow. For ‘Bare Essentials’, we wanted a pure black and white look. For ‘Backyard brunch’, we knew we wanted light tones with a hint of blue.” Maintaining great visuals is a crucial leg of Aion Homes. Staying in touch with what’s current with a distinctive touch is how the brand navigates the realm of social media. Accommodating and welcoming new shifts in the space with all heart, is their ultimate mantra.
Feature Credit - Simran Khera
Image Credit - Aion Homes