Interviews by Akanksha Pandey. Photographs by Asad Sheikh. Styled by Sarah Rajkotwala.
Ateev Anand of Re-
Model: Shambhavi Dubey
Your collection “re- ceremonial” presented occasion wear without the heavy embellishment and bling that is almost customary when it comes to Indian bridal wear.
The textiles, handwoven and dyed naturally with utmost care, are the true soul of these pieces. They need not be decorated any further. They are crafted into abundant shapes while maintaining a lightness that is hard to achieve with recycled raw material. Each piece is intelligently cut to be able to evolve with an evolving body shape and mood, so the wearer can enjoy it over many years. We feel there are people seeking this ease in ceremonial clothing. We perceive a shift in consumer consciousness. Individuals are becoming more mindful of their impact on the environment, especially Gen Z who are next in line to get married. We also feel these pieces resonate with the zeitgeist of our time, seeking not only a deeper relationship with each other but also with our planet. This collection is for individuals who choose to wear their values on their sleeves, who want to travel and carry their beautiful heirlooms with them. These individuals will rewear their choices with pride because it validates their discernment and because they will truly be able to enjoy the versatility of these pieces by styling them uniquely each time.
Can you share some of the processes or techniques you employed to create recycled ceremonial clothing? Tell us about your work with unwanted pre-consumer fabrics and how you merged them with natural virgin textiles.
All our textiles are crafted from GRS-certified recycled cotton yarns. These are made by recycling post-industrial and pre-consumer textile waste and mixing it with virgin cotton to spin 100 per cent natural yarns, which we can easily dye using plant dyes. We have used these with silk and metal zari yarns which are traditional to many weaving cultures in our country. Our dyes also come from recycled sources like marigolds from temple offerings and tender coconut skins among others. We have explored hand sewing with some of our pieces. No electrical machines are involved in the production of such pieces. They are entirely sewn by hand; this was how clothes were made for royalty in the past. It takes us around 80 hours to sew a kurta and 250 hours to put together a lehnga with over 50 kalis [panels of fabrics attached along the flare of the lehnga].
What does Indian fashion mean today? How do you see Indian fashion evolving in the future?
Fashion is the story of our time. The Indian story is currently very diverse and rich, taking inspiration from our heritage and influences from an ever-evolving global conversation. We are discovering our own potential. There is a sense of joy in knowing how connected we are as a culture and there are many of us who wish to return to those roots and respond from an authentic, uncolonised space. We are witnessing a very opportune moment in our story as a people.
Tell us what stands out in this collection and why?
This collection is our effort in realising beauty without compromise. We have made sure each piece or idea was pushed to become the best version of itself. We have tried to emulate historic pieces and practices of ceremonial dress while staying relevant to our time. At the same time, we have crafted future-positive flat knit garments using the same yarns. Both are coloured by the same plant dyes. This beautiful juxtaposition is a personal win for us in this collection.
What does sustainability mean to you as a brand?
Sustainability is a state of no fear, a friend once told us. That sentiment drives our actions.
Respect: we seek to create an honest relationship with our planet and everyone who comes together to realise our ideas.
Responsibility: we are mindful of our physical impact on our surroundings and the impact of our choices on the generations that follow.
Recycling: we are committed to building circular and conscious consumption patterns in fashion.
Do you have a particular direction in mind for your brand?
After the pandemic, we see a greater potential in working within the domestic market. India is a large population with traditional conscious consumer sensibilities and our brand speaks to those ideals. With the “re- ceremonial” line, we are creating pieces that will appeal to the Indian aesthetic.
Where do you see your brand in the next five years?
Creating slowly but with kindness. We look forward to integrating all the aspects of our recycled textile manufacturing process in-house. Maybe soon we could be the first to craft elegant handmade wedding ensembles by recycling pieces from the wardrobe of the wearer.