Tug on the thread of harmony

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Garment courtesy: Debashri Samanta
Model: Reha Sukheja
Photography: Vinit Bhatt
Hair&makeup: Megha Kothari
 
It all started when I read about the power of ‘shopping hauls’ conducted by Pretty Young Bloggers which can jump start the sales of a sluggishly moving ‘play – suit’ for a fun fashion label. Upon viewing one such, on a blog’s YouTube connect, I was completely hooked. The Pretty Young Blogger would talk with breathless enthusiasm about her huge bagful of super cheap, super trendy garments that I, lounging on my bed and devouring a bowlful of ‘bhujia’, would get excited about her amazing purchases. As if on cue, the links for all her garment pieces were enumerated, so with a quick click, I was connected to those garments and really, within five minutes, I could order on-line, pay pittance for them with zero delivery charges and within 3 to 4 days, the garments were delivered. Soon this became a regular pastime as, for the price that was cheaper than movie tickets, popcorn and coffee, I had a bagful of cool clothes! The additional excitement of opening the bags and laying my eyes on the garment for the very first time was nothing short of Santa given gifts. If anything was awry, well no problem, I could exchange it or get a refund, no questions asked.
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Tug on the thread of harmony

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Upcycled garments by brilliant designers of Doodlage.
Lovingly made stole with discarded fabric is by amazing Karishma Shahani Khan for her label [Ka] [Sha]
Model: Beautiful Reha Sukheja
Photography: Vinit Bhatt
Hair and makeup: Megha Kothari
 
I suppose,akin to comic book character ‘The Flash’, alacrity is the biggest strength of Fast Fashion. The ridiculously reduced production cycle of fast fashion labels has ensured that a teenager (in many cases a grown woman, sadly) will not wait for three months for the slouchy, cutoff t – shirt that Rihanna wore yesterday. The designers/ copiers of the labelkeep an eye out for these sightings with more severe alertness than that of a stock analyst in a bull market and inform the production team. The production team, profoundly missing a ‘life-line’ to provide any clue on this matter, takes a shot in the dark. If the customer wants that t-shirt at all, she wants it now. Production team has to be ready with the logistics on both possible scenarios – that the garment is a success and becomes a staple for pretty mall rats or is a dismal flop and remains unseen on the racks, taking up expensive square footage of the store. The possibility of a dress worn by Taylor Swift the very next day, becoming the afore mentioned staple and the Riri T-shirt turning out to be a dud is scary and not to be left to chance at any cost.
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Tug on the thread of harmony

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Garments: Padmaja

MODEL

PHOTOGRAPHY

Gracious and gorgeous Reha Sukheja

Madly talented Vinit Bhatt

Hair and make-up

Fairy like Megha Kothari

A face off between the hulk like polyester thread and the fairy like natural thread is inevitable. Synthetic threads are exposing their menace with harmful emissions during manufacture, toxic water waste with scary monomers and solvents, non-biodegradable afterlife and perhaps the carcinogenic kick to the wearer. The natural threads, on the other hand are receiving a helping hand by many talented and bright designers who are finding unique ways to bring back the natural threads into our wardrobes with garments that are fashionably fetching.
 
Here, for example, the bolero jacket has been made with tiny scraps of pin tucked hand woven cotton fabric by Padmaja Krishnan under her project called ‘slow.useless.’ Deeply appreciative of its value, at the end of a working day, even the tiniest scraps are collected at her studio. These scraps are patched, stitched, re-stitched to magically create new textures and surfaces.The process is slow, the raw material is useless –but the end product is simply priceless.
 
The tunic is made of wild silk with ‘Kaantha’ handwork. As the thread wanders over the silk canvas, in the hands of a whimsical embroiderer, it leaves behind steps that are sometimes wide and sometimes close, creating an organic pattern and universal appeal.
 
In one frame, the two threads are juxtaposed, one in this polyester thread making factory and the other on the garment, so harmonious in appearance and yet so treacherously disparate in their aftereffect.

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Tug on the thread of harmony

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Garments: Padmaja

MODEL

PHOTOGRAPHY

Gracious and gorgeous Reha Sukheja

Madly talented Vinit Bhatt

Hair and make-up

Fairy like Megha Kothari

 
The thread that weaves our modern life has been going through its own transformative journey. There were days when it was born from a pure cotton boll, nurtured by sunshine and water, enriched by the natural fertility of the soil and gently coaxed into its thread form by tractable hands working the ‘Charkha’ – our spinning wheel – in a meditative space. The final garment was indulged with, by the wearer with a sense of respect towards it and was kept well, gently hand-washed, shade dried, lovingly worn and caringly mended.
 
As times changed, so did our lifestyle and the gossamer like thread, which could have been woven into a fairy’s wings, had to cope with the new expectation akin to that of Batman’s cape and be indestructible in every situation. We have no time to ‘separate hand wash’ the garment plus it has to face the harsh detergents to take off the pollution fraught grime.Then comes the rough and tumble of the machine wash. There can be no gentle natural colours, for they tend to bleed. Also, only toxic chemicals can survive the harsh sunrays of open drying or mass, mechanic drying of an automatic drier and it should not require ironing, naturally for we have no time.
 
The kind thread has transmogrified into an indestructible demon with a dangerous manufacturing process and dubious side effects to its wearabilty. The polyester.

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Tug on the thread of harmony

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Garments: White Champa – a label that offers modern,sustainable and impeccably tailored garments in traditional textiles.

MODEL

PHOTOGRAPHY

Gracious and gorgeous Reha Sukheja

Madly talented Vinit Bhatt

Hair and make-up

Paper birds

Fairy like Megha Kothari

Persistent Tejashree Bhanawala

The morning of Makar Sankranti brings with it an eerie sense of foreboding. The sky remains vacant like a canvas fearfully waiting, as if, for the kites to pierce it, perforate it while the callous wind adds to the merriment of the kite flyers.

There are a few kite enthusiasts who are testing the quality of the kites and their prowess that will be called upon to menacingly take on the skies in the evening.

Then there are also those gentle souls who are fearful about the fate of the innocent birds, the unsuspecting and highly unwarranted victims of the trenchant spool of thread.

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Tug on the thread of harmony

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Photograph by Vinit Bhatt
Makar Sankranti, the celebration of a robust harvest and the changing of harsh winters to warmer days, has been celebrated in India for the longest time. It is not surprising, therefore, that in an agrarian country like ours, it transcends regional preferences and is celebrated all over in one form or the other.
 
Gujarat, especially Surat, is famous for flying humongous numbers of kites on this day that can render the sky almost invisible.
 
Surat is also famous for humongous production of synthetic fiber, producing 90% of Polyester that is used in the country.
 
These actualities of this city have a similitude of the Thread – the glass laced, sharp as knife, thread on the kite’s spool and forming the very warp and weft of fast fashion – the cheap, synthetic, non-degradable, mass produced polyester thread.
 
Archetypical of the condition of modern Indian society at large, Surat renders itself to be the milieu of our story – the incessant tugging at the delicate thread of our harmonious existence with nature.
 
This story endeavors to weave its thread through the labyrinth of the perilous sport of kite-flying, sew its way through the damaged fabric of fast fashion and eventually cut itself free and soar in the evening sky as a beacon of hope in the form of thousands and thousands of twinkling, glowing paper lanterns. Join in.

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Waking up to Consiouness

16-12-2014

Some pieces of clothing are hard to hold on to if you lead a life of immense leisure and your friends, well, do not. You aimlessly take a stroll here and there, come upon something of beauty and buy it.
 
Wearing that thing of beauty, you catch up with a friend who does meaningful things and gainfully utilizes her time and she looks at you and says; “Why could you not pick one such for me! Please send this one over and get another one for yourself.” Though I don’t keep a track of such things with friends (Really. I don’t) but I have to say that the Eka frocks, made bytalented Rina Singh, top the list (second only to Upasana’s Turkish pants made by Uma Prajapati!). So imagine my surprise when my 14 year old daughter, upon seeing an Eka frock, tried it on and decided it was ‘cool’, so ‘cool’ in fact that she will wear it to an outing.
 
It was a moment of inspiration and I was itching to do a story along the line of ‘conscious garment surviving the destruction caused by fast fashion”. Rina was requested to send garments for the story. Now what was needed was a location that could justify the narrative. I was lamenting on my dilemma to my friend, Jyoti Gwalaniand she looked at me through her retro glasses and declared, “I know the place!” I knew Jyoti would know of it. She always does.
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Waking up to Consiouness

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The global situation of the fashion industry has reached a position of such massive destruction that it may soon be crowned as the biggest Eco offender of the planet. As ominous and scary as it sounds, the solution available seems to be dubiously easy to undertake – at least at the end of the consumers.We, in India, certainly will find ease in extricating ourselves from this tailspin scenario.
 
Our tradition of attaching value to our purchases is still alive in our psyche. We are conscious of the ‘money’s worth’ of our purchases and giving away old garments still has a sense of hidden pride. We feel like a philanthropist while giving away a piece of wearable, well-taken-care-of garment rather than feeling the guilt of a mindless squanderer, ‘dumping’ out-of-trend, cheap quality product.
 
We have been blessed with a garment like the sari that is completely timeless and versatile only if, of course, one has not gone rogue and bought one with the visage of an actor or a politician! A sari can be worn on innumerable occasions without looking like an unimaginative ‘repeat’, is not bound by the vagaries of ‘bloated days’ and will always find a grateful recipient. We truly have collective ownership of a 100% sustainable garment.
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Waking up to Consiouness

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I must confess I wanted to completely bypass the sad and heart wrenching story of cotton farming in our country that ironically, provides us with widely used and most comfortable fabric of all.
 
A little backstory to cotton farming is that 85% of the cotton produced worldwide comes from China, India, Brazil, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and the USA. While USA maintains its lead because of huge subsidies doled out by the government to its cotton farmers which entitles them to almost 3 times higher price than what is paid to other farmers for the same amount of cotton. These indulged growers contribute in satiating the massive appetite of cotton by fashion brands in the US.
 
Uzbekistan has a cruel trick up its sleeve for keeping the prices of cotton competitive; it has done away with machines for cotton picking and forces youth to toil under inhuman conditions, during harvesting season of almost two months, to pick up sixty kgs of cotton bolls with bare hands everyday, a deficit in which leads to harsh punishment.*
 
The cotton farmers of our country are going through a bizarre and painful journey, so full of pathos that it is just unbearable. There were good times, when the cotton farmers of India created wealth but that dream run turned sour at the start of the new millennium. Indian land, as it is, yields much lesser cotton in comparison to other countries and the vicious cycle of genetically modified seeds and tons of pesticides has taken a deep toll on the vulnerable farmer.
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