NIFT graduate, Anavila Misra, has re-defined the sari in India giving it a pure, distinctive and minimalistic aesthetic, with the introduction of the linen sari. The designer founded her eponymous label in 2011 soon after returning to India from a short stint abroad. With an aim to break the stigma associated with the sari - of it being a garment donned only on auspicious occasions - she wanted to show the world the ease of wearing a sari with the linen sari. Comfortable yet feminine, her idea of the linen sari proved to be a great way to change the perception of a sari being uncomfortable. Her designs bring together a simplistic charm to the traditional Indian drape that represent comfort, luxury and elegance for the modern-day women.
With an unapologetic love for linen and India, Anavila's saris are crafted solely in linen while making a constant effort to innovate with new designs and motifs to keep it fresh. Making her debut in 2014 at the Lakme Fashion week, the designer is dedicated to associating the sari with comfort, making it a part of our everyday wardrobe.
The designer sets herself apart from others by rediscovering Indian crafts, working with organic material and providing sustainable employment to women. Misra's creations are eco-friendly and her brand relies on the use of organic materials which are soft and comfortable. Here's what the designer has to say about fashion sustainability, her brands ideology and her newest collection.
1. What does fashion sustainability mean to you?
It is an approach towards creating and consuming fashion with a conscious mind and sense of responsibility towards all the stakeholders be it farmers, spinners, weavers, dyers or final consumers.
2. What motivated your brand towards sustainable fashion? Why is sustainability important for you?
We co-create all our products with artisans in rural clusters. Sustainability is a way of life for them and not a choice and hence it reflects in our work. I believe that mindful creation is the only way to mindful consumption and hence it's important to re-evaluate and correct the way we have been creating and consuming fashion.
3. How can one support sustainable fashion?
The right choice of raw material, processes, thought, proper cluster interventions, a careful design that not only thinks of the product but also its larger play.
4. A few things that you are practising as a designer to contribute to fashion sustainability?
Right from raw materials to right practices and work conditions, to detailed packaging - every step contributes to making a mindful product. All of us in the industry should be conscious of our choices and encourage the usage of locally available and produced raw materials. With the abundant talent of local crafters and artists available to us, we should utilise their skills for a much more sustainable production chain. Collaborating with local artists and craftsmen allow you to create new products and curate a unique design vocabulary. And most importantly, the outcome leads to positive socio-economic and environmental impacts.
5. What are some of the challenges you faced when you adopted fashion sustainability?
To keep the brand essence of creating value through innovation alive amidst all the market pressure and growth. Also, to agree to work on longer processes and smaller productions ensuring the quality of the product is not affected.
6. How would you explain the importance of brands like yours who are making steps to become more ethical and sustainable to someone who isn't well versed in what that means?
Hand-woven textiles are slowly becoming luxury products as the time and cost of creating it is much longer and higher. The livelihoods of the artisans involved and their life conditions largely depend on the merit of the product. It's very important for us designers to co-create interesting products with longer lifecycles and ethical value chains as eventually, a beautiful and consciously created product sits in the wardrobe for a longer time and hence contributes to a better life.
7. What do you wish you could be doing more of in the sustainability space and what steps are you taking to do that?
We have always been working with natural textiles created in artisanal clusters and now we are consciously moving towards natural dyes and other processes in the value chain that can be done with the hand. Our design philosophy is towards classics and seasonless fashion and hence create products which go beyond one season.
8. Your take on why linen saris are more favourable than the traditional sari?
Linen saris are not only apt for the weather conditions but they are also comfortable and contemporary. They are more like raw canvases that can be dressed up or down depending on the accessories used for styling.
9. What’s next for your brand?
On product level we are working on our next innovation and also adding a few more categories, we recently introduced handmade dolls and toy collection called: Busa and friends which did really well.
On the brand front, we want to start working closely with our environment to ask questions and find solutions, creating sustainable livelihoods.
10. What is the inspiration behind your latest collection?
My Winter/Festive collection ‘JOY’— epitomizes the warm emotional wave that is Indian festivals. Drawing inspiration from the joyous, celebratory and cheerful mood that prevails during this particular time of the year, the collection conveys heartfelt stories with an amalgamation of beautiful aesthetics, nuanced details and individualistic style.