With spring already on the anvil, striking it harder will have summer coming in soon. So I have begun my shopping for this summer with an indigenous brand-Aavaran, for an assortment of indigo apparels, home furnishings and accessories. Its Indian traditional motifs, from Udaipur- ‘The City of Lakes’, on fusion wear are oh-so-hip and perfect for our scorching summers!
Spoke with Alka Sharma, the lady who conceptualized this project keeping in mind the development of the deprived tribal communities and empowerment of women, in the surrounding areas. In a few years, she is happy to have built Aavran on a workshop model for seeking design interns, from known fashion and craft institutes.
MD-Tell me about your childhood.
AS– My father worked in the police which was a transferable job. So I did my schooling all through in a boarding from IIIrd standard uptil IIIrd year college (Sophia Girls College, Ajmer) and later Textile Designing from IICD, Jaipur.
Since childhood I have liked doing things with my hands; I suppose it’s a passion for crafts.
MD-Who have been strong design influences in your life?
AS– A strong design influence throughtout my growing years has been my mother. She used to make so many wonderful things out of waste.
I have also had the privilege of working with some great names in the Indian textile and crafts industry e.g. Sally Holkar (Rehwa), Bunker and Aruna Roy of Tilonia and Sanjay Garg (Raw Mango).
And without my husband’s support all this would not have been possible.
MD-Why did you name the organization, Aavaran?
AS- Aavaran is a hindi word which means covering- blue colour covers the sky or sea and we too offer a covering for our bodies and home with shades of indigo.
MD-Who are the brains behind the project?
AS– I started this project, but was motivated by Sanjay Garg (Raw Mango) during hard times. I admire his simple, minimalistic approach.
MD-What is the uniqueness of the indigenous craft you are trying to revive?
AS -Aavaran identified that the unique block printing and dying process (Dabu & Phetia) practiced by the local village dwellers of Chippo ka Akola, district Chittorghar, was diminishing. “Phentiya” is actually a lehanga or ghagra which is hand printed and hand stitched skirt, worn by the local women of farming communities. This is different from other block prints. On Phentiya, Tar has been used as a resist to cover specific areas while redyeing a fabric. The other local resist used before Dabu could not withstand indigo dyeing more than twice.
We are trying to make indigo dye 100% natural since right now it is only 70%.
As for our design process we take inspiration from traditional Indian motifs, places, techniques like our first collection had an inspiration of Backdrop of lord Krishna, 2nd was Mandana floor art of Rajasthan, 3rd was Blue pottery, 4th was birds and Peepal leaf etc. These collections are traditional motifs which are stylized as per the current marketing trends.
MD-In what direction do you see Aavaran moving?
AS–Aavaran wants to take this local craft to another level, globally, with a varied range of products. Also are looking at incorporating fair trade, ethical and environment-friendly methods through the entire process.
“Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening” – Coco Chanel