Tucked into one of the narrow bylanes of the historic Hauz Khas Village in New Delhi stands a store that many mistake to be Italian, or Japanese. It exudes an ambience of nostalgia and fine craftsmanship—leather goods and accessories with vintage black-and-white prints and contemporary designs—while muted detailing lines its walls and shelves.
Six years ago, Gautam Sinha, 36, set up his store, Nappa Dori, in this bylane to create an identity for himself, instead of continuing to hand over his designs to someone else. ‘Nappa’ is a word for soft leather that has Spanish and Native American roots while ‘dori’ means thread in Hindi, the two essential components of Sinha’s products. With these, not only has he stitched together a brand that is comparable with big names such as Hidesign and Fossil where quality is concerned, but has also brought Indian aesthetics to a global product range.
Today, Sinha can boast two more outlets (at Mehar Chand Market and Select Citywalk mall in New Delhi), exports to the US, France, the UK, Japan, Finland, Germany and Singapore, and provides in-room leather accessories for hotels such as The Westin Gurgaon and Fairmont, Hilton and Burj-Al Arab (all in Dubai). His famous clients include filmmaker Mira Nair, actors Sonam Kapoor, Jacqueline Fernandez and Nimrat Kaur, and Hollywood biggies Naomi Watts and Eva Longoria.
Sinha’s journey into the global market for fine leather goods began in Delhi, where he was brought up by a single mother, and where, as an aspiring designer, he did not have the money to apply to either the Rhode Island School of Design, or the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York; so he settled for what he could—studying fashion designing at the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in New Delhi.