I found Jaipur-based brand AZGA at a pop-up shop in Delhi. From a distance, I was slightly apprehensive, because while there are many people doing menswear and accessories nowadays, very few do them right. Let’s face it – bespoke and handcrafted have been abused to the point where it’s hard to take the terms seriously at face value. To add to that, I’m seeing “men’s fashion” largely being reduced to just double-breasted jackets and footwear without socks!
But going back to where we started, AZGA was a real breath of fresh air when I went closer to the display and saw their exquisite creations. The range spans cufflinks, brooches, lapel pins, buttons and pocket squares – the entire gamut of what men need, basically. And each of them is a true visual treat.
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Delicate handiwork and traditional, artisanal crafts are on full display in AZGA’s collection of handcrafted accessories for men. Designed and created in Jaipur, their creations employ techniques like enamelling, stone inlays and miniature painting by hand. This results in an aesthetic that is richly old-school and very exquisite. They’re easily one of our best discoveries lately because I genuinely feel like there is a dearth of true quality offerings in the sphere of cufflinks, buttons, brooches and the like. Wearing their cufflinks puts a smile on my face and makes me feel like the effort to dress up was worth it. It’s the stuff I wish I knew about when I got married. And yeah, this is a foolproof gift – I can’t think of anyone I know who wouldn’t be pleased to receive something like this.
- Exquisitely designed and crafted in a way that feels traditionally elegant, yet unique
- Excellent variety of product and styles – from sherwani buttons to kurta studs or just rich-looking cufflinks to make a classic white shirt pop, especially for the more ethnic celebratory days
- Handcrafted element is clearly visible in their enamelling and miniature painting techniques
- Make for perfect gifts for men – hard to think of someone who won’t like them
- If I had to nitpick, on very close inspection I found an area or two where the finish could be a bit more consistent on the cufflinks, for example, where the cup meets the face – though this is neither visible nor bothersome when wearing
(Definitely Curry readers can get a 10% discount on AZGA’s entire collection by using code DEFINITELYCURRY10 on their website AZGA.in)
I experienced the brand through a selection of their signature enamelled creations, namely:
- The Zebras Cufflinks: Finely hand-painted zebras on ivory enamel (rose gold plated)
- Hibiscus Blue Cufflinks: Blue enamel with floral motifs in gold (yellow gold plated)
- Moroccan Insect Brooch: Made of brass in the shape of an insect with an enamelled body in rich navy blue and olive green, reminiscent of Mughal lattice screens
Looking at them, the first thing that jumps out is that there’s life and dimension to the cufflinks and brooch, giving away the fact that they are unmistakably handmade. This ‘life’ also comes from the radiance of enamel – an AZGA specialty. Enamelling is a craft that has very few takers today, because it’s time consuming and not mechanised. Add fine hand-painting to the mix, and we’ve got something unique we’re just not used to seeing. On the insect brooch, even the tentacles have such careful detailing.
I’ve worn the cufflinks on a few occasions now and they’ve evoked exclamatory reactions from people each time. I’d put this down to the lack of things around us that feel tangibly human; which multiplies the novelty of such objects. The blue enamel playing with light, the delicate brush strokes ending micrometers apart to showcase the texture of zebra hair, or the sheer richness of gold leaves against the backdrop of royal blue – they’re all little things that elevate these cufflinks over the mundane.
The trouble of finding something unique and special
AZGA is a rather compelling answer to problems that surface while looking for accessories to go with formal wear, be it a suit, bandhgala or sherwani. Most options simply don’t feel distinctive enough, right? I’m sure you’ve been there while searching for a pair of cufflinks – it feels like browsing through twists of metals, stones and motifs that appear overpriced because they evoke simply no emotion. It ranges from boring to tasteless to mediocrely finished, or at times, all of them together. In our recent reader survey, 84% of you said you have trouble finding accessories that are unique and exquisite looking. That’s a startling number, reflecting the gap between what people want and what they’re offered.
When dressing up for an occasion, you want these little accessories to give you a special feeling, rather than merely stepping up your look with some checkbox essentials. Therein lies the problem that AZGA solve so wonderfully. Glancing at their unique creations Does give you that special feeling.
The crafts that AZGA employ for their creations
I mentioned enamelling and miniature painting as signature traditional crafts AZGA use to fashion their offerings. It bears taking a moment to understand what this entails.
Enamelling is an ancient decorative art – a process of applying powdered glass to metal and then firing it at very high temperatures (~800°C). Colours are given through the addition of minerals and pigments. Heat melts the glass and fuses it to the metal, forming a hard coating. Once finished, it assumes its characteristic glaze and is very durable – it doesn’t fade easy. Being a watch enthusiast has kept me interested in this art as watch dials are often enamelled too and lead to some of the most stunning outcomes. As the artist doesn’t have full control over how the fire will impact colour, texture and consistency, it can also lead to low tolerances, high rejections and repeated attempts to achieve the desired result.
On the other hand, miniature painting is something all of us have witnessed at some point; in its most basic form, through artisans who are happy to paint a loved one’s name onto a grain of rice. Of course, it can get a lot more complicated than that. AZGA’s artisans paint flora and fauna on just 18mm discs to fantastic effect. Such intricate hand-painting is done with a magnifier to the eye, using brushes that look like they belong in a dollhouse!
A catalogue fit for the season of weddings and festivities
We’re now in the festive quarter of the year, stuffing our faces silly and spending time in affectionate company. It’s naturally also a time to augment one’s formal wardrobe, dress up and go looking for gifts. In this particular context, it helps that AZGA’s designs veer towards an aesthetic better suited to ethnic formal attire. This stems from the Mughal inspiration seen in their pieces as well as the general sense of flair in the visual elements, because of which they’re clearly not simple or basic.
In addition to the pieces I went hands-on with, things like golden barasingha cufflinks or the Mughal style brooch are extremely elegant. The motifs and colours used by the brand are unapologetically classic, which also makes pairing them easy with a formal or ethnic outfit. With a suit, you would want a palette match of your cufflinks and tie, but with bandhgalas and sherwanis, go play. For these jackets, buttons with the signature AZGA aesthetic are available as well, in a set of 13 (7 big, 6 small). They look quite regal, especially the ones with Mughal carving. AZGA’s accessories make for great gifts that are hard to go wrong with. This is aided by the fact that they come packed in a rather nice bottle green box.
Founder’s take: Namita and Nikita Bhandari
Sisters Namita and Nikita Bhandari are the force behind the brand. AZGA started in 2014 in their home town of Jaipur. Not ones for many words, the founders choose to let the product speak instead.
On the underserved market:
“When we started AZGA, there were very few people focussing on men’s buttons in India. It gave us a huge opportunity to experiment and focus on products that the modern man was looking for.”
On the importance of good craftsmanship:
“We see every product as a mix of various stories. The crafts, techniques and the ones who make the pieces – their stories get added too. Working with crafts help us do our bit to keep them alive. Experimenting with traditional techniques and presenting them in a whole new form is exciting and always a great learning experience for us as well as our artisans.”
AZGA’s collections can be checked out and shopped here on their website – AZGA.in.
Cufflinks are priced between ₹1,850-₹4,000 depending on the complexity of craft involved. On similar lines, brooches are priced between ₹1,850-₹4,650. Whereas a set of 13 buttons (for sherwanis or bandhgala) range between ₹7,650-₹13,000. (See details below for an exclusive community discount)
Also in AZGA’s collection are pocket squares, stone-set cufflinks, lapel pins and buttons / studs for kurtas and shirts. The value proposition feels good for the kind of aesthetic, quality and craft on offer. Each piece is evocative, carefully crafted and it looks the part. I feel that paying a small premium on such accessories doesn’t hurt if what you get in return is something exceptional that gives you joy.
Definitely Curry readers can get a 10% discount at AZGA by using coupon code DEFINITELYCURRY10 across the collection. Valid for a limited period and cannot be combined with any other promotion. Check out AZGA.in to browse the full catalogue and prices.
Men have limited indulgences in matters of dressing up, which is why good discoveries attract generous enthusiasm. AZGA is one such example of a homegrown Indian brand making something truly beautiful that stands out in the best of ways. Throughout their accessory collection, we find tasteful motifs, rich colours and a unique look that is the result of classic design and artisanal craftsmanship. It’s something you need to see in-hand to truly appreciate it and feel it come alive. Wear them for the special feeling, gift them for good taste, or just check them out to see traditional crafts staying alive – they’re quite easy to fall in love with.
What did you think of AZGA’s handcrafted cufflinks and accessories for men? Were you searching for something like this? Let us know in the comments below. And if you found this story interesting or useful, please spread the indie brand goodness by sharing it!