Beyond Boundaries: Founder of South Asian fashion platform Melange

Photo: Melange

When fashion entrepreneur Samia Khan recently visited the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre in Mumbai, India, she was “blown away” by an exhibition showcasing the history and evolution of Indian fashion. In a Zoom interview with The Peak, the founder of South Asian fashion platform Melange enthuses, “There were installations showing how Indian weaves and fabrics have been used by couture houses like Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, and Dior since the early to mid-20th century. It was absolutely stunning.”

Indian fashion certainly seems to be having its moment in the sun. In March, Dior held its pre-fall fashion show in Mumbai. It was the luxury house’s way of paying tribute to the Chanakya atelier, which creates its hand-embroidered textiles.

Says Khan, “We all knew about spaces such as Chanakya, but this show brought this to light and recognised the people behind all this amazing work. It’s an acknowledgement of the work that’s been done behind the scenes.”

Related: 10 fashion trends to look out for in 2023

It’s about time. Khan, who is from Mumbai and has been based in Singapore for the past 14 years, started Melange in 2015 as a passion project. A former marketing and PR executive in the hospitality industry, Khan recalls, “South Asian fashion had not really made its presence felt in Singapore then. I felt there was an opportunity to showcase the Indian designers who are doing amazing, modern designs through apparel, jewellery, and accessories.”

samia khan
Photo: Melange

Melange’s roster of mostly Indian designers includes big names such as Tarun Tahiliani and Anita Dongre, as well as up- and-coming labels such as Saaksha & Kinni. During our virtual meeting, Khan, who has just come from an event, is wearing a vibrant crepe jumpsuit by Tahiliani, along with a vintage choker.

A fashionista who describes her personal style as experimental, Khan looks for versatility and wearability in the brands she carries. She says, “I like designs that can go from desk to dinner. It has to appeal to a modern woman — and it doesn’t have to be an Indian woman.”

While Melange used to focus on physical pop-up events, the pandemic forced Khan and her team to take their operations online. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as the website has allowed Melange to reach customers outside Singapore, primarily in the US, UK, and Australia.

Also in the pipeline are plans for a permanent showroom, which will better allow Melange to serve its clientele. Says Khan, “I want South Asian fashion to be accessible to many more people. I hope to be able to contribute to my heritage in this way.”