First Person

I am a Kashmiri Trying to Take you Back to our Roots

‘Isbandh’ was conceived two years ago, when I was introduced to the elaborate manufacturing process of Kashmiri handicrafts. Isbandh is the Kashmiri name for Harmal seeds which Kashmiris burn during weddings and other occasions and make their loved ones sniff its fumes to save them from the evil eye.


By Mehreen, 17 Nov 2021

I am fortunate to have a great friend and team member, Qubra, along for the ride. We launched Isbandh in 2021 after two years of research and brainstorming with local artisans and experts in Kashmir. Isbandh is a storytelling lifestyle brand aimed at working with the local artisans of Kashmir. It is an effort to revive Kashmiri crafts, which are embellished with stories and anecdotes from our rich cultural heritage.

The idea is to invoke nostalgia through weaves and art pieces and even in our research journey this is an essential part of our art creation process, which feels like rediscovering our culture like never before. We are artists at heart, telling stories through our creations and Isbandh is like a medium for us to get back to our roots, which are the core of our identity.

We use local resources like hand-woven Pashmina, sheep wool and silk, embroidered with our heritage signature embroideries, to create timeless masterpieces. We also like to create a fusion of various hand-woven textiles from the subcontinent with traditional Kashmiri embroidery.

The focus is on working with women artisans of Kashmir associated with spinning, weaving and embroidery all through the textile history of the world.

Our first collection, Zoon or the Moon, is inspired by the famous Kashmiri poetess, Habba Khatoon. Her real name was Zoon. She was a poet and ascetic and the wife of Kashmiri emperor Yousuf Shah Chak. The campaign for our Autumn-Winter edit was shot in Downtown Srinagar, wherein our muse is a ‘flâneuse’, walking and exploring the alleys, hence the theme ‘Zoon in Shehr-e-Khaas’. (The old Srinagar city is also known as Shehr-e-Khaas). She is an explorer and a writer who is out in the streets looking for inspiration in the life moving around her.

I am a creative person, and art inspires me, soothes my mind and challenges me. So, despite having taken a very usual path in my career, pursuing B.Tech from NIT Srinagar and then MBA in Marketing ,it has been my dream to be an entrepreneur in a creative field and create a bespoke luxury brand that promotes the richness of our art, craft and culture at a global level.

Even though inspiration is a very abstract notion and subjective as well, but, Kashmiri youth have a lot to derive their ideas from. Our culture and tradition is rich to fuel creativity. Be it the crafts of Kashmir, the beauty of the landscape or even the sayings of our poets that have been a part of our syncretic ‘Rishi-Sufi’ tradition, we don’t really need to go very far in search of inspiration. It is in us and all around us, luckily.