Burke Residency 24: Exhibit-A

Written by Margaret Stoll


Posted on February 09 2023

EMMA: Can you introduce yourselves and tell us a bit about Exhibit-A? How did you and your partner come to work together and create this collection? 

REBECCA: My fiancee Pavan grew up in a textile family business in India. We met during college (USC) and after finishing our studies, we wanted to create an apparel line that we would want to see in the market and both would actually wear. We both spent time in India studying textiles, leather manufacturing, and design. We created Exhibit A as a way to showcase our passion for comfortable, minimalist design. 

 Rebecca and Pavan of Exhibit-A

E: You wrote in your residency application that your collection stays true to your and your partner’s Indian roots, techniques, and traditions, incorporating Indian artisan weaving techniques and patterns and supporting the artisans with which you work. Can you share more about the specific techniques and traditions? How did you connect with the artisans with whom you work?

R: For the entirety of our collection, we have worked alongside skilled craftsmen/craftswomen from Agra,India. This is a northern city (home to the Taj Mahal) known for their traditional, handmade leather and wool products. Our creation process involved the artisans’ perspective on both ideation and production. We utilized inputs from local leather weavers and craftsmen to put form to our concepts for the range.

For instance, in the Izanami denim robe (which we have provided in our capsule collection to Burke Mercantile), we wanted to explore a silhouette which fused traditional Japanese apparel with modern elements. We worked with a denim tailor in India to decide the fabric and form of this piece. The concept we had in our mind was elevated by the tailor’s idea to make the body of the piece fit like a kurta which is a traditional Indian menswear garment. This gave the robe a structured, yet androgynous look which seamlessly brought our vision together. 

 Izanami Robe on model by Exhibit-A

E: Your website describes Exhibit-A as gender-neutral wearables and clothing intended to “mimic the balance between masculinity and femininity found in nature” and inspired by the shifting nature of light. I love the fluidity in that! Can you share more about how you came to create a brand that was gender-neutral? 

R: We see clothing as an extension of identity and sense of self. We try not to be too influenced by the current trends in fashion, rather our approach is to choose timeless pieces and a neutral color palette that is approachable yet classic, and does not constrain us to a single way of stylization. Living in a small beach town near Big Sur, we are constantly inspired by the nature around us. Our inspiration for this collection specifically came from the way light moves and reflects off of the landscape around us. We wanted our collection to embody the movement and spectrums of color found within these moments of our everyday life. 

 Models wearing Exhibit-A

E: You have a collection of apparel and accessories that includes knitwear, leather goods, and assembled woven garments. Do you have a favorite material to work and design with?

R: Our favorite material to work with is Nappa leather due to its durability as well as its clean finish. It will stand the test of time and get better after each use. We have loved using this material on our accessories and as accents on a few of our apparel pieces. We have used Nappa leather on our leather bucket hat and leather cap as part of the capsule collection we have provided to Burke Mercantile.

Male Model wearing Exhibit-A leather bucket hat

E: Exhibit-A is only about a year old and already you’ve had a handful of awesome collaborations with other artists. How do you connect with these artists, and are there more coming in 2023? Can you share a bit about that collaborative design process?

R: We have attempted to provide a platform for artists to work with natural materials and collaborate with us on elevated designs that are inspired by themes and elements from their artwork. 

 Male Model wearing Exhibit-A cap and vest

E: Currently, we are expanding the scope of what constitutes an artist collection and collaboration. We recently worked with an author, and plan to keep making our collaborations interesting and unique in the future. What keeps you inspired, or where do you turn to for inspiration? 

R: We have supported local artists since our culmination as a brand. In starting our brand through various exhibits and pop-ups around California, we have had the opportunity to engage with a thriving community of artists that we are continually inspired by and want collaborate with.

 Models wearing Exhibit-A

E: What’s your favorite part about Exhibit-A and the experience of being a small business owner - what makes you feel especially amazing about what you’ve built?

R: For us, Exhibit-A has been a process of listening, learning, and experimenting with  traditional artisans, local artists, and countless other people who have helped us on the way. Pavan and I are quite reserved people, so the thrill of taking risks by putting our work out there has been frightening but also extremely liberating. Operating on a small scale and serving a niche audience has helped us be more attentive to customer feedback, and has given us a platform to engage with other creators and business owners alike.

Shop the Residency collection from Exhibit-A by clicking HERE.



Leave a Comment