My Inspiration for Creating Abacaxi
The first abacaxi capsule was a limited edition of candy-hued silk dresses and separates all made in NYC; each one had a unique mirror-work embroidery patch, cut from remnants I had collected while traveling in Rajasthan, India. The brand started this way in 2013 as a creative project, and has now grown into a full-time, small label.
While I was developing those first pieces, it was winter in Brooklyn and I was thinking about my month-long trip along the coast of Northeastern Brazil. With the wide variety of fresh tropical fruits available there, my obsession with fruit flourished. I tasted delights like cashew fruit, cupuaçu, and acai for the first time. I remembered the musical nature of the word abacaxi (pronounced uh-bah-ka-shee), the Portuguese word for pineapple, and the way the fruit sellers on the beaches of Bahia would sing out the names of the fruits, extending each word for a long time. I named my brand abacaxi to give it that carefree, joyous, and island life vibe. Pineapples, sweet on the inside and gorgeously patterned on the outside, are a symbol of good luck and hospitality in many cultures.
All of my work is deeply connected to my roots; my family is from India and growing up, I spent some summers there. Watching my Mom and Aunts get custom tailored clothes made for weddings is what initially sparked my fascination with the garment design process. I accompanied them to the fabric markets in Delhi where I saw a kaleidoscopic range of textiles for the first time. In addition to the richness of Indian textiles, I’ve always been inspired by the incredible breadth of traditional South Asian silhouettes—from the sari, churidaar, sharara, gharara, kurta, anarkali, salwar—there is an endless amount of ingenuity to pull from. I believe in the importance of knowing the origin of a design, the history and meaning it holds, and love to twist traditional drapes into something new that we want to wear at home, to work, to dinner and on a getaway.
Many styles in the line have either a convertible or reversible element to them; some with an easy fit that goes up to a size 14/16. Designing with inclusivity and adaptability in mind makes abacaxi more sustainable. This too is driven by the way indigenous dress (for example the sari – one garment can fit almost anyone) is adaptable, reusable, and timeless, making it inherently sustainable.
This Fall, my collection is called The Butterfly Effect, named after the scientific theory about the interconnectedness of all life on this planet. I did some research on ‘Turing’ patterns—naturally occurring motifs such as zebra stripes, butterfly wing designs, leopard spots, peacock feathers—and sought to translate them into abstracted tie-dyes and a quilted embroidery technique. Here are my cozy, warm picks for the season. These styles are handmade in small batches in India. They showcase several different traditional textile techniques and shapes, and are meant to stay in your wardrobe for a long time!