It was 2009 in Mumbai and Mriga Kapadiya, co-founder of fashion label NorBlack NorWhite, didn’t know a soul.
Kapadiya, born in Hyderabad and raised in the Middle East, had spent the last 20 years in Toronto. She had just graduated from college. Toronto was diverse and full of opportunity. Kapadiya had started an arts and music festival and had met a handful of like-minded individuals, such as Amrit Kumar, a Toronto native who worked at a vintage shop, piecing together fabric to create new designs.
But Kapadiya couldn’t help but feel like she didn’t belong in Toronto. “I was a weirdo brown girl,” she laughed. “I wasn’t working in finance or as a doctor.” So Kapadiya flew to Mumbai with minimal savings and the mildest inkling of a plan. Six months later, Kumar joined her. Together, they started NorBlack NorWhite.
A decade later, Kapadiya and Kumar have built an entire universe that’s hard to describe. That universe includes Instagram images of gold-decked disco singer Bappi Lahiri, slow videos of rows of purple shirts left out to dry, and images of pink, blue, and green polka-dotted art deco houses. It also includes videos set against the Mumbai seascape, mixing A.R. Rahman’s Tamil hit “Kuchi Kuchi Rakkamma” with Usher’s “You Make Me Wanna…”
Then, there are their clothes, shimmery blue-green dresses, red bandhani-printed jogger pants, and effervescent gold skirts seen on everyone from Lilly Singh to Sonam Kapoor to Jhene Aiko.