I did a rough calculation. In the last 4 years of living in Delhi I’ve lost altogether 9 umbrellas, that’s roughly 2 per piddly monsoon season here. Back home in Bombay I never lost a single one, perhaps because of the sheer necessity of it! I had a psychedelic Stag umbrella I’d picked up in the legendary store at Princess Street; it was the first I lost upon reaching Delhi.
The umbrella’s functionality makes it indispensable, thankfully the folding umbrella invented in 1928 made the task of carrying it simpler. If you’ve also lost more than one of these, I’m happy to share a goodwill tip: to avoid losing another umbrella, get a truly gorgeous one. That way your fear of losing a loved object will ensure you keep it near.
For the most innovative umbrellas you’ll need to look south, towards Kerala, where the hub of India’s umbrella manufacturing industry is. Here you will find even a selfie-stick umbrella, as well as the world’s first fully-electric umbrella. Alternately, you could prettify a hideous black one you already own – there are many umbrella painting workshops being organised in cities – or you could pick one up from this list of funky buys. All collectibles I promise.
1. Cheeky Chunk
This unique startup was started by Mumbai-based millennial Pratik Doshi and he pretty much hit gold with it because, well, he’s the only one doing it. Their umbrella frames are sourced from Rajasthan, and special care is given to the printing and stitching so you don’t make a fool of yourself on a windy day. There are over 20 pop art designs to choose from.
2. Keh K Lo
Another startup, Keh K Lo is the brainchild of Delhi-based millennial Ashish Agarwal who named it after a dialogue from Gangs of Wasseypur. So you can expect plenty Bollywood designs, but also other quirky ones inspired by art and music.
3. India Circus
For a truly designer umbrella, head to Krsna Mehta’s India Circus. Their ‘windproof’ umbrellas cost a bit (over 1k each), but then you know you won’t go losing it either!
4. Sun Umbrellas
Here’s a Kerala giant that has perfected umbrella-making since it set up operations in 1880. Their products are affordable and come in a range of designs featuring Warli art to minimal black stripes (the latter would set you back by thrice the price for the same design at Burberry!). Also check out their Fanbrella, which is UV-protected and comes with a fan!
5. The Bombay Store
This one’s well-known to any Bombayite. The Fort-based store has umbrellas too in its trademark designs. Find their new heritage collection and more here.
Never heard of it? They call it the ‘unforgettable umbrella’. It’s a smart umbrella in that it sends weather alerts directly to your phone via a companion app (should your eyes fail to do the job) and better still, it alerts you should you leave it behind. Pick up Wezzoo Oombrella at an early bird price here.