In conversation with Sonam Kapoor Ahuja's Ladakhi ensemble designers at Namza Couture

The designers give us a peek into the process of recreating the traditional Ladakhi mogos in a contemporary silhouette for Sonam Kapoor-Ahuja, who wore it to the Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant's pre-wedding festivities in Jamnagar.

Sonam Kapoor-Ahuja's images adorned in the Ladakhi traditional attire, mogos and bok, on the last day of the Ambani pre-wedding festivities, have been trending on social media platforms. With her choice of attire for the 'Heritage Indian' theme, the actor, has yet again, proved she is a style icon. Designed by Namza Couture, the Ladakhi ensemble celebrated heritage, diversity, and sparked meaningful fashion conversations. Kapoor's choice highlighted the importance of cultural representation in the mainstream.

"Namza", derived from an honorific term in Ladakh, was launched in 2016 by Padma Yangchen and Jigmet Diskit, engaging with local artisans to revitalise traditional textiles. In an interview with Brides Today, the founders decode Sonam Kapoor's look and delve into the evolution of a Ladakhi bride and heritage.

Namza Founders
Padma Yangchen and Jigmet Diskit in Mogos

Brides Today: Please help us decode Sonam Kapoor's look for the function?

Team Namza: Sonam wore Mogos—'mo' stands for female and 'gos' stands for robe—paired with a bok cape which is worn for warmth and showing respect to elders in Ladakh. The fabric is hand woven Benarasi silk, adorned with intricate hand embroidered traditional motifs such as flower, phoenix, and crane, which are frequently seen in the architectural marvels of Ladakh. The region's clothing goes beyond aesthetics, serving a crucial purpose in harsh weather conditions. People primarily opt for warm sheep wool fabric, but for festive occasions or weddings they choose fabrics like brocade.

BT: What was the process of creating the outfit?

TN: Our design process is deeply rooted in the rich cultural heritage of Ladakh. We primarily work with textiles indigenous to Ladakh, drawing inspiration from its historical connections along the Silk Route. While we incorporate influences from Central Asian countries, such as silk and geyser that were historically traded through Ladakh, we prioritise sourcing from within India. The fabric of the outfit was woven in Benaras, the hand embroidery was done by our artisans from West Bengal, and the final stitching was done by craftsmen from Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, we collaborated with skilled Ladakhi artisans renowned for their exquisite hand-smocking techniques, adding a unique touch to the design. The entire creation took us 22 days.

Sonam Kapoor in Namza

BT: How do you reinvent traditional techniques, styles to appeal to the larger Indian audience?

TN: At Namza, we recognise the intrinsic value of Ladakhi clothing beyond mere aesthetics conditions. Initially limited to few colours like maroon, black, or natural sheep wool hues, we at Namza have breathed new life into traditional attire by introducing contemporary colours and fabrics. Our efforts have not gone unnoticed, as we've witnessed a surge in global appreciation, with individuals from countries like China, Japan, Italy, and Switzerland embracing Ladakhi fashion, even incorporating it into their weddings. This transformation has not only brought glamour to Ladakh but has also garnered international acclaim, a testament to the power of innovation rooted in tradition.


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BT: What is the key to reinvent heritage style without compromising on it's traditional essence ?

TN: The key to reinventing heritage style lies in respecting its traditional essence while infusing contemporary elements. It's about honouring the rich history and craftsmanship while adapting to modern tastes through innovative designs, materials, and techniques. By striking a balance between tradition and innovation, we ensure that each piece maintains its cultural significance while appealing to the sensibilities of today's fashion-forward clientele.

BT: How has the Ladakhi bride evolved in her taste and preferences and what is she looking for according to you? 

TN: Over time, Ladakhi brides have evolved in their tastes and preferences, seeking wedding ensembles that blend beauty with cultural significance. They desire attire that reflects their unique personality and heritage while also embracing modern elements. This balance between tradition and modernity is crucial in creating a meaningful and visually stunning bridal look. Ladakhi brides are looking for outfits that not only adhere to their cultural customs but also allow them to express their individuality on their special day. Therefore, wedding designers and artisans strive to incorporate traditional motifs, fabrics, and techniques into contemporary designs that resonate with the modern Ladakhi bride.


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BT: Designer wear is still a very niche concept in ladakh. What has the evolution of the brand been like?

TN: Namza Couture's evolution in Ladakh represents a fascinating intersection of traditional culture and contemporary fashion. Initially, the concept of designer wear in Ladakh may have been niche due to the region's remote location. However, Namza Couture has played a pivotal role in changing this perception.

At its inception, Namza Couture has faced challenges in introducing high-fashion concepts to a market more accustomed to traditional fabrics like nambu (sheep wool) or polyesters. However, through careful curation and innovation, the brand began to gain traction by blending traditional Ladakhi motifs and techniques with modern design elements. Over time, Namza Couture has expanded its reach by showcasing its collections at local events, gaining the attention of both locals and tourists interested in unique fashion offerings. Social media and online platforms have also played a crucial role in extending the brand's visibility beyond Ladakh, attracting customers from across India and internationally. Today, the brand stands as a symbol of Ladakh's evolving fashion scene, bridging the gap between tradition and modernity while simultaneously showcasing the region's rich cultural heritage to the world.


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BT: Considering there's not much recorded history on ladakh's unique tapestry, where do you get your inspiration from?

TN: We draw inspiration from engaging with the elderly, documenting their stories, and preserving the ancestral attire found in the few households in Ladakh. Despite the limited research on Ladakhi culture, including its food, clothing, and traditions, the brand embraces oral storytelling and folk tales to infuse its designs with the essence of the region.

 Also Read : How Kareena Kapoor Khan makes a case for restyling old jewellery for a contemporary look

                      : 3 times Sonam Kapoor-Ahuja wore her mother's jewellery, including at Ambani's pre-wedding ceremonies


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