Plain Tiger Spotlight: Stain

Born in the Emerald of the Equator

By Renee Fortune

A stain stays with you,
Or on you,
Or somewhere in between.

It remains.
And changes what it marks 

For some a lingering memory
For others a lasting impression
For what is a stain but an emblem of what was, what is and what will be.

Stains have been given a bad rap in the fashion world. It’s safe to say they’re something we tend to avoid and rush to remove – if we can. But when a stain is made intentionally, that changes the game, and leaves room for individualism, exploration and the essence of memory. These kinds of ideas underpin the design aesthetic and creative philosophy of Stain, a brand born and brought to life in Indonesia. 

Stain was founded by two former co-workers, Pooja Bhansali and Monica Tarunadjaja, who realised their potential to create something truly unique while working together on a fashion project. Monica graduated from the London College of Fashion with a BA degree in Fashion Design and Technology. Pooja obtained a BFA degree in Fibers from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Stain is where these two worlds come together to play – and play they certainly do.

We love that ‘stain’ cannot be removed from the concept of sustainability. Whether this play on words was something intentional or whether it just happened by chance, it’s the perfect way to represent the fact that Stain was (and still is) a product of the sustainable fashion movement.

Stain garments are cut and sewn in independent, small-scale workshops in Indonesia, using textiles that are not water- and energy-intensive to produce, and do not harm the planet or people. Along every step of the supply chain, protocols and policies have been introduced to reduce waste, ensure the fair treatment of artisans, promote recycling and encourage the upliftment of local communities. 

As Pooja adds: “What defines the culture of our company is that we stay committed to making responsible conscious choices in every decision we make, and integrating these values through all aspects of the business, from our team to our products. Our choices and values are what define us as a brand.”

Stain is both left- and right- brained in its aesthetic. In the collection you’ll find the stuff of extroverts – the oversized Gemini shirt and pants set with its sprawling design that throws out pops of colour with the child-like delight of tossing confetti. Step out in this outfit and you’re making a statement. It’s an ‘I’m here’ statement that’s designed for people who aren’t afraid to own and take up space.. 

But there’s also something to suit the palate of lovers of the understated. The River Top, in its unassuming shade of oat is elegant, feminine and flattering in a way that is delightfully demure. It's got elements of classic design – bell sleeves and a crew neck front. But its design is also drizzled with a Midas touch of what’s different – a scooped back and cheeky v cut-out detailing along the hemline.

If you’re someone who notices and appreciates these nuances; which speak to the importance of playing and experimenting with design, then Stain is where you’ll shop for the next few pieces to add to your capsule wardrobe. 

Touching on the design style and printing techniques that Stain employs, Pooja explains that: “Our speciality is textile design, and all of our prints are made in-house. For every collection that we build, we take the time to develop our concept and prints. Our print inspiration varies from collection to collection depending on what we are inspired by – our surroundings, movies, music, art and nature. Our silhouettes are a collection of classic wardrobe staples, but with a variety of unique prints. It’s everyday wear that is comfortable and long lasting, both in terms of quality and design.”

In the range you’ll find some crowd favourites, including linen, cotton voile and handwoven silk. The common thread (pun intended) is that all of these luxurious fabrics are breathable and lightweight, with textures that are soft to the touch and durable enough to last for the long haul. 

So wear it. And wear it again. Because Stain will stay with you. And this time, you’ll want it to.