Slow fashion


Slow fashion

Reimagining the idea of sustainability, one stitch at a time

By Malika V Kashyap  December 22nd, 2014

Indian designers are reimagining the idea of sustainability, one stitch at a time.

UPCYCLED BY PÉRO BY ANEETH ARORA

Almost everyone has that piece of clothing, the one worn thin and past its prime. It often ends up sitting in the back of your closet, too beloved to part with. For designer Aneeth Arora of péro, the solution to this was simple — she patched her Ralph Lauren jacket with bits of cloth from her previous collections, and when required, patched it again. Staying true to her personal aesthetic, she followed that up with hand embroidery and trinkets on buttonholes, represented in her main line of handmade textiles, adorned with the most detailed and whimsical embellishments. When artist Dayanita Singh saw Arora’s work, she was reminded of a beautiful Perry Ellis jacket that had been hanging in her cupboard for the last 20 years. She loved the feel of it, and its collective memories. Singh says, “I asked her to make something out of it, yet retain what it was. I like the idea of things being individualised; it is something I do in my work as well, it more than meets the eye. This is what I like about Aneeth, what she makes is like a gift, customised for you.” And so, Upcycled by péro was born as a new way to offer luxury to the consumer — personalisation of an outfit most likely made from large-scale production.

Singh’s jacket was made reversible, an idea that struck Arora from observation. “I’ve seen many people wearing my clothes inside-out, many of them unaware. I think it’s a testament to the work, that something looks beautiful [no matter how it’s worn].” Her approach to embroidery follows the same reasoning: “It is more intimate when it’s done directly on the garment; one can see the marks of it from both sides as individually worked upon details.”

After Singh’s project, Arora worked on a Levi’s denim jacket owned by prominent art collector Anupam Poddar. It featured bits of older textiles — all from previous collections. The team at péro retains each hunk of fabric from the cutting table as most of these bear the work of multiple hands — the dyer, weaver and often those embroidering on ikat and block-printed fabric. Arora works at the yarn development stage for many of her creations, making the scraps precious and “impossible to throw away.” While these leftovers have often been used in pom-poms, tassels and tiny dolls in the children’s collection, here, they are used to transform an existing item into something unique, lengthening the lifespan of an otherwise ill-fated piece.

Since its revamp, Singh wears the jacket “all the time, especially since it is reversible. I like the idea of a more casual side in the day, and then if I go for an opening, I just turn it around. It’s so simple.” Has this changed the way she views her wardrobe? “Absolutely, I’m already thinking of what else I can do. I have so many of my father’s clothes. If I wanted to represent memories associated with him, could that be made into a jacket? I like the idea of that.” 

WASTE NOT NIKHIL D

Nikhil’s body of work ranges from styling to illustration, addressing human nature and its otherworldly quality. Devoid of frivolity, his work is concerned with purpose, and most recently, re-purpose. Over the last year, he has worked on two collections, collaborating with other designers — he used their textile scraps to put together a small range of limited-edition pieces because he “didn’t want to create just another line, but make something out of nothing.”

The first came about after a conversation with Himanshu of 11.11. “They gave me a box of fabric they didn’t need and I rifled through it,” says Nikhil. “I also had a roll of some fabric I’d made in college. I wanted to make something basic that you could sleep in and wear about.” The T-shirt was the perfect starting point; 11.11 gave him their best pattern-cutter to work with and complete creative freedom. The bits of fabric were manipulated beyond recognition, tie-dyed, over-dyed and pieced together with a hand-stitched detail. The second line was launched in July this year after an encounter in Bengaluru with smallshop by Jason and Anshu, known for their quaint handmade textiles. This led to an assortment of 12 unisex parkas, in an ode to the city’s rains. 

SEASONLESS MORPHE

The pressure associated with designing by the seasons has driven many creatives to the point of exhaustion, and in the saddest cases, impairment. Azzedine Alaïa spoke in defence of a disgraced John Galliano, saying fashion’s pace is “inhumane…it’s too much: too many collections; too much pressure.” The global calendar has yet to change, but a small number of designers are taking a decidedly seasonless approach to production. When Angelique Raina joined Morphe this May as CEO, the design studio was trying to balance all the demands of retailers, red carpet and custom pieces, as well as a new line every season. Raina realised that they didn’t have the luxury of time they needed to be able to create so much. Designer Shenali Sema agreed, adding, “I felt like I wasn’t able to put enough time into building ideas as I would have liked.” 

They discussed a new model for production and creation, built around the concept of three core collections, each of them encompassing 20 looks, and offered this to retailers in a wide combination of colours, materials and surface embellishments. These pieces cater to lifestyle instead of ‘seasonality’. It may be too early still to gauge the success of this model, but it helps that the brand is nestled in a large export house, which allows for a steady supply of base fabrics — an obstacle many other designers face without similar backing. On the design front, Sema is proud that there is currently an in-depth exploration of the patterns. “In fact, the ‘wave’ has been developed so much across capsules that it signifies Morphe. I feel like there is a clarity,” she says. 

ONE-TO-ONE KORRA

The denim business is fickle; new brands often add noise to an over-saturated space, hungry for differentiators measured in gauge, rawness and selvedge. Refreshingly, Korra brings a clear vision of mindfulness by co-founders Shyam Sukhramani, Mia Morikawa, Himanshu Shani and Rajesh Jaju. Relying on the digital space to offer a great product at accessible pricing was a strategic move, and at Rs 2,900 a pair, the prices of these jeans are comparable to the high street. However, a deeper look at the brand reveals a more noble initiative. 

Sukhramani, who has been working with denim for over 17 years, says the brand’s decision to develop ‘single tailor sewn’ pieces is integral to the craft. “People are making products for people they don’t even know,” he says. “There is no ownership, especially in assembly-line manufacturing, and similarly, the value of the product ‘maker’ is not really on the consumer’s mind. We wanted to create consciousness on both ends.” At Korra, a tailor owns each step of the process for every single garment he creates, thereby expanding his knowledge base, working with up to six machines. The approach ensures a standard of quality because no worker can move on to the next step until the previous one is perfect. The finishing touch is an indelible mark of his name on numbered denim — a little something to remind users that there is distinct human involvement in each pair and that we affect each other by our actions.  

Photographs: Hormis Antony Tharakan, Monish D, Abhay Singh; Hair and make-up: Devika Heroor; Assisted by: Arushi Parakh, Akanksha Kamath and Neha Salvi

Indian designers are reimagining the idea of sustainability, one stitch at a time.

UPCYCLED BY PÉRO BY ANEETH ARORA

Almost everyone has that piece of clothing, the one worn thin and past its prime. It often ends up sitting in the back of your closet, too beloved to part with. For designer Aneeth Arora of péro, the solution to this was simple — she patched her Ralph Lauren jacket with bits of cloth from her previous collections, and when required, patched it again. Staying true to her personal aesthetic, she followed that up with hand embroidery and trinkets on buttonholes, represented in her main line of handmade textiles, adorned with the most detailed and whimsical embellishments. When artist Dayanita Singh saw Arora’s work, she was reminded of a beautiful Perry Ellis jacket that had been hanging in her cupboard for the last 20 years. She loved the feel of it, and its collective memories. Singh says, “I asked her to make something out of it, yet retain what it was. I like the idea of things being individualised; it is something I do in my work as well, it more than meets the eye. This is what I like about Aneeth, what she makes is like a gift, customised for you.” And so, Upcycled by péro was born as a new way to offer luxury to the consumer — personalisation of an outfit most likely made from large-scale production.

Singh’s jacket was made reversible, an idea that struck Arora from observation. “I’ve seen many people wearing my clothes inside-out, many of them unaware. I think it’s a testament to the work, that something looks beautiful [no matter how it’s worn].” Her approach to embroidery follows the same reasoning: “It is more intimate when it’s done directly on the garment; one can see the marks of it from both sides as individually worked upon details.”

After Singh’s project, Arora worked on a Levi’s denim jacket owned by prominent art collector Anupam Poddar. It featured bits of older textiles — all from previous collections. The team at péro retains each hunk of fabric from the cutting table as most of these bear the work of multiple hands — the dyer, weaver and often those embroidering on ikat and block-printed fabric. Arora works at the yarn development stage for many of her creations, making the scraps precious and “impossible to throw away.” While these leftovers have often been used in pom-poms, tassels and tiny dolls in the children’s collection, here, they are used to transform an existing item into something unique, lengthening the lifespan of an otherwise ill-fated piece.

Since its revamp, Singh wears the jacket “all the time, especially since it is reversible. I like the idea of a more casual side in the day, and then if I go for an opening, I just turn it around. It’s so simple.” Has this changed the way she views her wardrobe? “Absolutely, I’m already thinking of what else I can do. I have so many of my father’s clothes. If I wanted to represent memories associated with him, could that be made into a jacket? I like the idea of that.” 

WASTE NOT NIKHIL D

Nikhil’s body of work ranges from styling to illustration, addressing human nature and its otherworldly quality. Devoid of frivolity, his work is concerned with purpose, and most recently, re-purpose. Over the last year, he has worked on two collections, collaborating with other designers — he used their textile scraps to put together a small range of limited-edition pieces because he “didn’t want to create just another line, but make something out of nothing.”

The first came about after a conversation with Himanshu of 11.11. “They gave me a box of fabric they didn’t need and I rifled through it,” says Nikhil. “I also had a roll of some fabric I’d made in college. I wanted to make something basic that you could sleep in and wear about.” The T-shirt was the perfect starting point; 11.11 gave him their best pattern-cutter to work with and complete creative freedom. The bits of fabric were manipulated beyond recognition, tie-dyed, over-dyed and pieced together with a hand-stitched detail. The second line was launched in July this year after an encounter in Bengaluru with smallshop by Jason and Anshu, known for their quaint handmade textiles. This led to an assortment of 12 unisex parkas, in an ode to the city’s rains. 

SEASONLESS MORPHE

The pressure associated with designing by the seasons has driven many creatives to the point of exhaustion, and in the saddest cases, impairment. Azzedine Alaïa spoke in defence of a disgraced John Galliano, saying fashion’s pace is “inhumane…it’s too much: too many collections; too much pressure.” The global calendar has yet to change, but a small number of designers are taking a decidedly seasonless approach to production. When Angelique Raina joined Morphe this May as CEO, the design studio was trying to balance all the demands of retailers, red carpet and custom pieces, as well as a new line every season. Raina realised that they didn’t have the luxury of time they needed to be able to create so much. Designer Shenali Sema agreed, adding, “I felt like I wasn’t able to put enough time into building ideas as I would have liked.” 

They discussed a new model for production and creation, built around the concept of three core collections, each of them encompassing 20 looks, and offered this to retailers in a wide combination of colours, materials and surface embellishments. These pieces cater to lifestyle instead of ‘seasonality’. It may be too early still to gauge the success of this model, but it helps that the brand is nestled in a large export house, which allows for a steady supply of base fabrics — an obstacle many other designers face without similar backing. On the design front, Sema is proud that there is currently an in-depth exploration of the patterns. “In fact, the ‘wave’ has been developed so much across capsules that it signifies Morphe. I feel like there is a clarity,” she says. 

ONE-TO-ONE KORRA

The denim business is fickle; new brands often add noise to an over-saturated space, hungry for differentiators measured in gauge, rawness and selvedge. Refreshingly, Korra brings a clear vision of mindfulness by co-founders Shyam Sukhramani, Mia Morikawa, Himanshu Shani and Rajesh Jaju. Relying on the digital space to offer a great product at accessible pricing was a strategic move, and at Rs 2,900 a pair, the prices of these jeans are comparable to the high street. However, a deeper look at the brand reveals a more noble initiative. 

Sukhramani, who has been working with denim for over 17 years, says the brand’s decision to develop ‘single tailor sewn’ pieces is integral to the craft. “People are making products for people they don’t even know,” he says. “There is no ownership, especially in assembly-line manufacturing, and similarly, the value of the product ‘maker’ is not really on the consumer’s mind. We wanted to create consciousness on both ends.” At Korra, a tailor owns each step of the process for every single garment he creates, thereby expanding his knowledge base, working with up to six machines. The approach ensures a standard of quality because no worker can move on to the next step until the previous one is perfect. The finishing touch is an indelible mark of his name on numbered denim — a little something to remind users that there is distinct human involvement in each pair and that we affect each other by our actions.  

Photographs: Hormis Antony Tharakan, Monish D, Abhay Singh; Hair and make-up: Devika Heroor; Assisted by: Arushi Parakh, Akanksha Kamath and Neha Salvi