Brand Story of Fabindia : Blending modern designs- traditional patterns

Garments made from natural fabrics such as cotton and linen have always appealed to me during the summer heat. The brand in India that stands out for its traditional crafts, furnishings and cool hand woven garments made from lightweight, hand printed fabrics is Fabindia, the stores from where I pick up some of my summer wear each year.

The ethnic Indian retail chain was started in 1960, by John Bissel, an American, working in India, as a one-man export company of home furnishings to market the diverse crafts of India.

fabindia logo

What makes Fabindia so different?

Sustainability is chanted as the business mantra for today, but back in the 1960s, profitability and social mission were looked upon as conflicting by most Indian businesses. Much like Amul, going against the tide, Fabindia worked on forming sustainable business relationships by creating sustainable livelihoods in the rural sector in India. They empowered the suppliers, and enabled their growth, along with the growth of the company.  

The first Fabindia retail store was opened in Greater Kailash, New Delhi in 1976 and it is still one of their flagship stores.

In 1988, after the death of John Bissel, his son William took over the management. Shifting Fabindia’s focus from overseas to the domestic market, he expanded it to form a retail chain, from the two shops in Delhi.

In the process he merged the supplier companies called community owned company (CoC), with Fabindia, and thus making each CoC shareholder, including artisans, owners of Fabindia’s equity. 



Indigenous techniques + Contemporary designs

Blending indigenous craft techniques with contemporary designs, Fabindia brings to us aesthetic and affordable products. The designs are adapted to urban taste, which explains the popularity of this retail chain in the cities over the government-owned emporiums.

Working with the village artisans the designers provide the designs and colours and teach them the basics of basics of quality, consistency and finish.

The ready-to-wear garments like tunics and kurtis are trendy and in line with the taste of elite urban populace. Handcrafted jewellery is available as accessories to go with the garments.


Besides home furnishings, Fabindia also has furniture, lighting, tableware, cane baskets and some handcrafted utility items.

Cereals, grains, pulses, spices, sugar, tea, coffee, honey, fruit preserves and herbs are sold as part of Fabindia Organics. Fabindia’s range of Personal care products includes soaps, shampoos, hair oils, pure oils, moisturizers, body scrubs, face packs, etc. 

FabIndia products are now available online and gift vouchers are available on Amazon.

Turning artisans into Company owners, Fabindia links over 55,000 craft based rural producers to modern urban markets, preserving India’s traditional handicrafts in the process.

 Ending this post with a quote from the founder of Fabindia.

‘In addition to making profits, our aims are constant development of new products, a fair, equitable and helpful relationship with our producers, and the maintenance of quality on which our reputation rests.
~ John Bissell. 

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    By: Somali K Chakrabarti

    Hi there! Welcome to Scribble and Scrawl! Here, I delve into themes related to positive lifestyle – from making smart-living choices, savvy financial decisions to nurturing the mind, body and soul. I share my travel experiences, explore facets of art and culture and highlight inspiring stories. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

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16 thoughts on “Brand Story of Fabindia : Blending modern designs- traditional patterns

  • June 4, 2015 at 4:28 am

    An exciting story of Fabindia nicely presented .

  • June 4, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Good information about fabindia. Very interesting

  • June 4, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Fabindia is quite a popular brand. My husband likes a lot…their panjabis and sherwanis… I’m not much a fan…

    Nice to know about the story behind the brand… 🙂

    • June 5, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      Thank you Maniparna. I pick up some casual wear including cotton kurtas, stoles and leggings from Fabindia.:-)

  • June 5, 2015 at 5:33 am

    Hmm. Well. Fabindia has tapped into a good concept. But i dont like their wearable collections for men!!!

  • June 5, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Oh yes, I have heard that Fab India helps the rural artisan forks, they make garments which FabIndia markets, though a bit pricey, Fab India has great comfortable ethic garments and best fact is that it helps rural artisans, helps them giving them a livelihood!!

    • June 5, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Maria. The etnic fabrics are comfortable indeed and I also like their business model that helps artisans to improve upon their art and get a better value for their products.

  • June 6, 2015 at 4:16 am

    I like FabIndia stuff. But, I do feel that they are overpriced.

  • June 8, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I have never tried Fab India stuff. However, it was interesting to read about the brand story.


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