A bridge between artisanal skill and modern design, RIAS JAIPUR creates its pieces with just the right blend of ancient printing and weaving techniques. The homegrown label was founded by Arshia and Avishek in 2018 when they felt the urge to create a label that highlighted artisanal crafts and promoted sustainability. The duo used their expertise and experiences to ethically build a model that would not only work as a platform to promote the farmer and artisan community but also add to environmental sustainability. In this interview, the founding duo talk to ELLE about the birth of their homegrown label, RIAS JAIPUR.
What prompted you to start your label?
RIAS JAIPUR began as an initiative to add value to the Indian craft sector. We’ve both gained formal education in fashion textile and accessories from NIFT, Chennai. Furthermore we’ve worked within the fast fashion industry to hone our skills. We worked on gaining real time experience, understanding the various segments and the markets, before initiating RIAS JAIPUR. This breakthrough helped us streamline what we really wanted to work on and the value that we wanted to inculcate in our business model. Both of us felt the urge to bring to limelight artisanal crafts to promote craft sustainability and build a platform for our farmers and artisan communities to explore, create and sustain.
What drew you towards the ancient printing and hand weaving techniques?
While practically implementing our theoretical fashion studies, we learnt about the many practices of our industry that we did not see fit in the long run. For example, when we moved back to Jaipur, we happened to see the commercialisation of various craft techniques to maximise profits and efficiency. Printed fabrics were being made on power looms using the techniques of screen printing/ digital printing. There were skilled master artisans practicing the authentic crafts who had moved towards the techniques of commercialisation to earn their daily living. This shift took place to serve the demand of overconsumption that we have normalised and adopted. We realised the need to build a platform to develop, promote and educate our artisans as well as our consumers for the need to shift to a slow fashion model. Additionally, our inclination towards weaving techniques is contributed by Avishek, he grew up between the looms and absorbed craft from a very early age. His family was engaged in gamcha-weaving, which opened doors for him to understand the ground level issues faced by artisans and their families.
When did you realise the importance of eco-consciousness?
We have seen the alarming number of quantities produced within the fast fashion business models. The processes carried out will lead to an imbalance to our environmental habitat, if not monitored in a timely manner. The pollutants released by the processes of the fashion industry lead to various hazardous damages that are difficult to reverse. We completely stand by the fact that in the coming future, making sustainable choices will be the need of the hour. It will not be a choice but a necessity to become conscious consumers. We wanted to work towards making a shift from these problems work on the lines of promoting environmental sustainability while producing in the most efficient manner.
What’s the most challenging thing about running a sustainable business?
In our experience, it’s educating our consumers about the time, effort and hard work put into making a product a success. It is difficult to sensitise consumers towards the hardships and real time situations faced by the makers and help consumers understand the value of the price they pay.
Tell us about your project on forming a circular design chain.
At present, we are working on an ongoing project in West Bengal near Chak village. This project aims to form a circular design chain for the entire village that holds a capacity of 250 families. The project is conceptualised to reuse manufacturing waste and regenerate fabric made of repurposed yarns. The developments of the project will be showcased in March 2022.
What is the inspiration behind your latest collection?
We began to perceive a new outlook within us, and our homes during the lockdown. We began to think differently, becoming mindful and conscious. With this thought in our minds, we began to work on our new segment – Home. We have been working hard for years to introduce and make sustainable clothing through our handwoven, hand-spun and hand-blocked fabrics. Keeping our ethics intact we are diving into a whole new escapade, our home collection, Rekh. Rekh draws inspiration from Rajasthan’s shifting sand desert from the Thar region. From there to our homes , we believe a shift-change-adaptive nature is necessary. Our entire collection is focused on Dhurries, made using hand-spun Khadi, which is handwoven meticulously by diligent craftspeople from Banskho, a village in Rajasthan. Subsequently these Dhurries are handprinted in Bagru by master artisans. We have worked on contemporising the stencil print to develop a non repeat pattern that portrays our Rekh for you.