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Global Designer Spotlight: Mahayatra from Toronto, Canada


MAHAYATRA's Riksha Weave Scarf

MAHAYATRA's Riksha Weave Scarf



MAHAYATRA’s main mantra is to re-ignite the menswear accessories space with timeless tradition. 


By: Marina Radovanovic

Toronto, Canada


Bringing attention to menswear and accessories is becoming increasingly important. The focus on fashion and design generally dominates female needs, but South Asian-Canadian designer, Neelesh Mistry found a way to begin his introduction to quality and elegant men’s accessories in a traditional, yet contemporary way.


Enter: MAHAYATRA, Mistry’s newest menswear line.


Menswear usually revolves around comfort and basic need but not the added touches as was once a staple or trademark, if you will, of a gentleman’s status decades ago. Even though some of the apparel and minimal accessories vanished in terms of menswear and accessories, Mistry found that accessories are making a sophisticated and an essential comeback for men!


Designer, Neelesh Mistry

Designer, Neelesh Mistry


handwoven scarf

MS Blue Red Pink Hand-stitched Scarf


What’s the meaning behind MAHAYATRA?

It’s made up from two words. Maha which means “great” and Yatra which means “journey”, or in the South Asian context it’s the religious “pilgrimage” . Hence, the combined meaning, “The great journey”.


How long have you been designing men’s accessories?

I have been designing and creating ideas around men’s accessories for over 5 years, and this is my first year of actually launching my own collection



What inspired you to focus on accessories for men?

The inspiration for men’s accessories came from my work as a personal stylist. My inspiration was simple — the lack of accessories available to men such as myself, and secondly the attention to detail that has been lacking and now is available through the MAHAYATRA experience. I found that the new generation of men want to dress well, but not necessary dress as formal as our fathers. Men today like unstructured items and this new line of accessories addresses those needs. Also, I had seen an opportunity in the market for contemporary menswear.


Pocket Square

MS Round Silk Pocket Square


Will your collection be exclusive to men, or do you plan on expanding the accessory collection to women as well?

The beauty about some of the accessories that I’m designing is that they are unisex. The scarves can be worn by anybody and we’re also seeing more and more women stealing their man’s tie or pocket squares, however there are always possibilities of creating a women specific accessories line.



MS Wool Silk Dot Tie


Describe the creation process. 


The production company for this project has used the women of Maheswar, located in the Nimar District in Central India. All of the scarves are made using 100% organic Nimiri cotton and by using these women in rural areas, it helps create more sustainable living conditions for the local cotton farmers and for the unemployed women. The scarves and pocket squares are milled in Italy and the final production is done in Sweden. The Italians are well-known for their impeccable attention to quality in developing fabrics and designs. The Swedish firm that I am using have been sewing ties for the Swedish Royal family.


What does your collection consist of currently?

Today MAHAYATRA is launching its first collection with Indian organic cotton (khadi) scarves, Italian milled ties and pocket squares.



Beautiful blue Pocket Square

MS Double Sided Check Pocket Square



Do you have a certain theme or specific characteristic detail to your collection that is immediately recognizable as ‘your collection’?

The focus or theme for my collection is to not be trendy. What I mean by that is that I would like to create items that not trying to follow a certain buzz in the fashion world, as those items eventually expire. I want to keep things simple and timeless with a huge focus on quality and letting the items speak for the brand without having any heavy logos or over branding.


Today the brand is also represented by a ‘red stroke’ which has some significance whereby everyone leaves a mark on every journey that you take or [at] every destination that you reach. Clothes also have this journey from design, mill, cut, weave or sewn and then to the customer. We’ve not incorporated [the red stroke] in this current collection but are looking to do so in the future.


Simplicity and working with classic silhouettes is a focus for me to ensure that I create items which are timeless! I feel, the craftsmanship in the hand-woven ties and scarves also sets us apart from all others.


Have you had your collection showcased anywhere, for example at a fashion show etc. ?

Yes one of my scarves was showcased during an online experience with Marcus Troy and Puma, as an accessory to highlight their re-launch of the Clyde Pumas.


Do you sell your designer collection in retail stores or do you have a website where people may purchase your collection?


Currently today we focus our sales primarily through exclusive men’s contemporary boutiques available in Canada, USA and the UK.


Gorgeous plaid

MS Wool Silk Flannel Tie


Who is your most inspirational designer that motivates you?


It’s hard to choose just one as so many designers have design principles and styles that I inspires me, but if I had to choose one it would have to be Hiroki Nakamura from VISVIM. His attention to quality and detail in the production of his garments is phenomenal. He, like most designers, look back at classic pieces that help influence his collection. His approach to using traditional craftsmanship and infusing modern everyday use has been a big influence on my design approach and [in this] first collection.


What do you envision for your collection?

Growth probably sums it up. I would like to build a full collection consisting of shirts, blazers, etc…as well grow into other lifestyle items such as candles and fragrances one day. I have a huge passion for scent and would like to go through the experience of producing a fragrance as smells are also a reminder of comfort and travel. I’m a firm believer that the world doesn’t need more stuff — just better things, and the same goes for someone’s attire, the focus should not be on buying more, but buying well. I hope to create items that get better with age.



MS Yellow Denim Weave Scarf


Do you plan to have your collection showcased anywhere in the near future where people may see your designs and purchase them?

Currently we are in the process of working on a few different show case projects which at this time I can not elaborate on, but anyone interested in my designs can easily reach me through my website www.mahayatra.ca .



Riksha Style Scarf

MS Riksha Weave Scarf



It seems that not only is Neelesh Mistry creating beautiful accessories for men that are based on quality, but plans to expand his designs and creations! I think we will be delighted with his current and future creations. It will most likely end up on everybody’s  ’must-see and must-buy list!’


For more information on this wonderful collection of men’s accessories, and of future exhibits where we all might have an opportunity to purchase Mistry’s masterpieces, visit his website: www.mahayatra.ca. For stockist queries please contact him directly at neelesh@flashinglights.ca and via twitter @mahadev_108.



Photography courtesy of www.mahayatra.ca




*Marina is a successful author, a history buff and adores classic literature. This Torontonian relishes in the  exploration of  unchartered fashion routes to discover talent that should be noted by everyone. 





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