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— Farah Sanjana

Alumnus of The London College of Fashion, Farah Sanjana worked with the house of Vivienne Westwood; with Escada UK as Fashion PR and with Elle India as Asst. Fashion Stylist to get a holistic experience of fashion. In 2011, she debuted in Lakme Fashion Week with a powerhouse collection where, using a collar as base, she created androgynous structural- yet- exaggerated silhouettes. Post- pandemic, she has been actively working on an initiative to empower karigars. In conversation with her.


''The Pandemic has made me understand the importance of restructuring and slowing down'', she sighs. ''For me, however, the most important issue was ensuring I secure my karigars in whatever way I could. I began an initiative, 'Saving The Artist' to bring some respite to the lives of migrant labour, seamstresses, tailors, raw-material suppliers and pattern cutters. I aspired to help these unsung heroes of fashion who keep our industry alive and flourishing. To raise funds that would support our embroiderers, tailors and artists we have put together a group of fourteen designers in collaboration with NGO Sneha Mumbai… we are coming together as a creative community to help support families of our workers that need us more than ever right now and also to help the NGO run its one-stop shop. How does this work? We are all selling two of our most popular pieces on Instagram; eighty per cent of proceeds is sent to artists linked to each of our organisations which helps create a trusted channel of direct fund transfers with no middle man involved. The remaining twenty per cent is shared with the NGO to support their fight against domestic violence and to help run their one-stop shop. These orders will ensure enough work for hard pressed artisans when they return. moreover it helps provide them with essentials i.e. ration, medicines, masks and sanitizers. Migrants have left their indelible footprints everywhere and provided service in almost all areas of commerce. This is our way of supporting them in their hour of dire need. As a caring citizen, I, along with thirteen designers, have sincerely put our mind, energies and heart into trying to help this workforce. I am truly grateful and overwhelmed by the response of my fashion community and the generosity shown by them towards these struggling millions.''


Few know about Farah Sanjana's alignment with sustainable fashion— before it became a necessity. Her values have always been sustainable; she's never done things to be thrown away after one season. ''As a brand I began 'Mindful Mondays' and 'Waste-Free Wednesdays' where we look into scraps and raw material collected over the past week and then upcycle them to create unique season-less products. I have broken this into four parts — 1. Upcycle dead stock from our winter collection and recreate them into summer silhouettes. 2. We don't throw scraps, cuttings or surplus sequins, beads and stones in the hope of re-using them. For example, we have crafted a floor length gown with hand-cut foil and sequins.The bodice is a painstakingly created hand-cut triangle and the bottom of the gown-suit is designed with leftover skeleton foil from the cuttings of the bodice. So by managing waste we are creating one of a kind pieces. 3. After re-organising my wardrobes, I found designer cloth bags from purchases of bags, shoes and wallets. With that, I created an upcycled jacket — combining dust bags with raw materials and fastenings from the store. 4. We have fabric waste segregation areas where we make sections of small, big and medium scrap fabrics which are utilised to make masks, cushion covers, patch work, courier packaging and cushion stuffing.''


There are crucial issues cropping up in fashion, she says. ''Budgets for designers have halved when it comes to fashion weeks, sampling for new collections and shoots. The way forward, as I see it, would be an increase in collaborations and slowing down the cycle of collections each year; produce less, but of better quality. There must be stringent levels of hygiene and safety in and around the workspace. On the other side of retail, my advice to those who want to shop responsibly would be to support local brands within your city and region. Start by making a switch from foreign labels to 'Made In India' or the state you belong to.The impact will be tremendous. I have stopped importing fabric and am ensuring all fabrics and raw materials are procured from India. This will challenge me to create inspiring design and in-turn help and support artists in our country without whom design houses would cease to exist.''


The way forward? ''Considering social distancing will be the new normal and it's hard to know when customers feel safe to shop, digital platforms and e-commerce is the way forward. However Fashion is an emotion — 'You need to see,touch and feel' the garment especially if it is being designed for a special day. Hence strengthening product quality is essential. However this area still has shades of gray and we will have to wait and watch as the coming months unfold.''

Farah Sanjana
"We upcycle scraps, raw material and cloth bags from my purchases to create unique season-less products"
Farah Sanjana
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