When I wanted to write an article about the rising Kochi boutique culture, my first instinct was to take a walk by the streets of Panampilly Nagar. Modern and chic styled boutiques have sprung up on both sides of the road here, making one wonder whether the upsurge of boutiques in such a manner is because of tighter competitions or the plain reason that the target audience is endemic to just this street.
Around 27 years ago, Bina Mathew and Thangem Mammen laid the cornerstone for this culture with the first ever boutique in Kerala, ‘Weavers’. The idea was different from a normal pret-a-porter shop. But, was this change accepted? Did they succeed? What was lacking then and what is different today? Has their dream of transforming the city come true, if not, at least to any extent?
“Give it five years, Kerala is going to change” promises Ashima, one of the pioneers in the field who owns a brand under her name. “The market that I am targeting, here in Panampilly Nagar, is a little more exposed to the western culture, though not really experimental like you would expect them to be”, she adds. She exemplified this by relating to the Kerala Fashion Weeks.