Surrey’s saris selling out ahead of Times of India Film Awards show

Published: April 3, 2013

Davi Bains-Gill

Davi Bains-Gill posed with several of her saris and dresses that are in huge demand right now, in Surrey, B.C., on April 3, 2013. Wayne Leidenfrost/PNG


Surrey fashion designer Davi Bains-Gill has had to turn away hundreds of people in search of the perfect outfit for the Times of India Film Awards (TOIFA).

“We’ve been going crazy and we have weddings and grads at the same time — and now TOIFA,” Bains-Gill said from her 128th Street store, Armaan DBG. “I have to turn people away.”

Bains-Gill started her business 12 years ago, specializing in custom-made South Asian garments. She was most recently the only Canadian designer featured at the TOIFA International Women’s Day event in early March.

At Armaan DBG Bains-Gill sits down with her clients to create a unique design, which she sends to her team in India where the garment is manufactured with authentic Indian fabric and embroidery.

“There’s been a lot of people coming in and out trying to find stuff for TOIFA,” she said. “They look at it like the Oscars . . . everybody wears gowns.”

“(So) there are a lot of people wearing gowns with Indian embroidery on them.”

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But she’s been forced to turn away upwards of 100 potential clients as they came in looking for Bains-Gill’s custom-made style at the last minute.

Armaan DBG offers a unique twist by creating a fusion of Indian and western styles.

“We take the best of the east and the west and we mix it together,” she said as one of her clients tried on her custom-made TOIFA gown for the very first time.

The woman placed her order weeks ago and happily looked at her reflection in the grey off-the-shoulder gown tailored with Indian sequins and embroidery.

But not all of Bains-Gill’s clients were quite as fortunate.

“I say eight weeks is what an order takes, but I started doing them in six and then I started doing them in five — I started rush orders,” she said. “Four weeks before the event my team in India was swamped.”

“I started saying no to people … I honestly didn’t think it would be this much craziness.”

The first items to go were saris and tunics. And while her store still boasts a display of vibrantly coloured and sequined pieces — the style just isn’t meant to be a one-size-fits-all.

“The sizing – that’s the problem, right? Everyone’s different,” she said, adding it’s more common to custom-make. “We haven’t been able to help everybody because of the time issue.”

House of Vanity, located in the same plaza on 128th Street, is seeing a similar flux in business with the TOIFA awards as well.

And part-owner Bal Dhanda said she recently turned a woman away who couldn’t find the right size without a custom order.

But the extravagant event this weekend is good for business, too, especially since Dhanda’s store only opened in November.

“People get to know our stuff,” she said, adding she’ll be volunteering at the Thursday and Friday night TOIFA events.

“It’s a good opportunity to volunteer and you know get your name out there and meet different people.”

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