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SUSTAINABLE FASHION IS IN MY GENE POOL

— SHRUTI SANCHETI

Sourcing directly from weavers, educationist and designer Shruti Sancheti has built her label by resolutely working to revive near- extinct weaves — since the time ethical fashion wasn't a buzz word. Till date, she has stayed true to her vision of making heritage weaves desirable to a global audience. I always admired how the designer is a quiet ambassador of indigenous textile craft, employing craftspeople whose handwork is native to a particular region i.e. she worked with Weaver's Centre Nagpur to revive the region's weaves and designed a line in alliance with Jharcraft to create sustainable livelihood in rural regions of Jharkhand. What is her take on sustainability from an Indian perspective? In conversation with the designer.

 

''I was born in Kolkata and have always been exposed to art and culture and, you know that saying, even though you leave Kolkata, Kolkata never leaves you; my deep love for textile craft is something I have grown up with and is in my gene pool right from the inception of my label. Even as a kid, I used to sketch garments but fashion design was not a recognised vocation back then. After marriage, I formally undertook fashion design, textile design and jewellery design, joined INIFD as Head Of Design, and later launched my own label. When chiffons and bling were in trend, I was working with indigenous weaves, textile craft and printing techniques. Indian designers have a legacy of textile crafts, so instead of emulating the west, we should explore the rich treasure trove of textiles that we have inherited. Working with different clusters from Jharkhand, Benares, Belgaum and others was incidental. While maintaining a global perspective, we, as a brand, design for the average Indian woman and account for her figure flaws and cultural restrictions.

 

Though it is challenging and demanding, I strive to continually evolve my aesthetic and make our collections global and contemporary — but with an Indian soul. Sustainability, for me, means three things in totality — it's not just about being kind to the environment; that should be backed by social and economic responsibility with planet, people and profit as the core ideology powering the label. I keep all of this in mind when conceptualising, executing and delivering collections. I have two labels and both follow responsibility towards planet, people and of course profit. I want to stress here that only handlooms or eco- friendly fabrics are not the key components of sustainability but also fair wages, ethical work conditions, zero wastage, usage of azo- free dyes and empowering weaker section of the society. This is what I try to practice. That said, though we have beautiful textiles, the consumer today wants something which is globally relevant and contemporary so we introduce new motifs or rework ancient motifs on a base of luxurious fabrics that have better thread counts so it is more fluid and versatile.

 

Both my brands are an an extension of my design philosophy — global contemporary designs with an Indian soul. My first label 'Shruti Sancheti' will continue to focus on restrained opulence, timeless luxury and sharp tailoring with a deep bent on Indian textile craft whereas my pret label 'Pinnacle' which is in its infancy stage fulfils the needs of consumers' daily lives whether it's work or lounging i.e. on-trend fluid looks that are easy to maintain and don't cause a dent in the wallet. However the garments are impeccably constructed and we want this infant brand to provide design solutions to a wider range of audiences and penetrate a new market. Interestingly, a lot of people ask us how they can create a green ethical wardrobe. My advice is to invest in classics, in timeless ensembles and in sustainable fabrics. Also, the clothes one buys could be upcycled and worn on multiple occasions!

 

On a serious note, problems faced by the fashion Industry are umpteen and the corona virus has added to our woes. Lack of patents and copyrights, lack of competent man power, unethical competition and practices are some of the existing problems along with a worldwide recession and falling GDP which impacts the demand for fashion, as luxury is the worst hit during such an economic climate. Let's hope for a  brighter future!''
 

SHRUTI SANCHETI
"Both my labels both follow responsibility towards planet, people and of course profit"
 
13-MARCH-2020
 
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