This week too I’m picking the textile city Ahmedabad, for shopping. Hetal Shrivastav‘s Craftmark certified clothing label Raasleela seems to have hit the mark. This under-the-radar 100% handstictched minimalist uses age-old hand sewing techniques to restore our love for vintage and versatility. One benefits from wearing cotton which is ideal for our scorching heat and muggy weather. I’d prefer to wear these anti-fashion classics’, drawing cynosures to its colourful detailing as an experimental dresser than just an eco-warrior. With sustainable fashion channeling my inner Venus is important. Infact, newfangled accessories like Krithaa or Duetluxury with fancy authentic espadrilles, strappy or gladiator sandals would put together a more trendier look.
MD: What is your family background?
HS: I traditionally belong to a weaver’s community in Gujarat, where sustainability has been a way of life due to lack of finances and a simple lifestyle. My background played a big role in helping me realize upcycling to its optimum. Like any middle class family in India, my mother’s old cotton sarees changed hands after they were stitched into a frilled frocks or curtains for the windows, and to be eventually torn into several even pieces as dusters for the scooter. When need be even patchwork quilts were made of the leftovers. I remember till my 6th or 7th standard, apart from the school uniform the only new clothes I got from the market were for my birthday or Diwali.
My father had moved for a government job from the nearby village, to Gandhinagar. Mother is a housewife. And I have two other siblings.
MD: What has been your creative trajectory till now?
HS: Optimum utilization of scarce resources has always been the core inspiration in my work. After finishing fashion studies at NIFT I joined an export house but within 4 months moved to a Boston based company – Alba Collective, as their designer and production manager in India. For it I connected international designers to local artisans of Gujarat. Being their only representative in the country, gave me an opportunity to work on A to Z of craft based productions. Though after three and a half years I started RaasLeela with an idea of using hand embroideries in contemporary ways. Even at that juncture, I could not afford a tailor’s salary and so I sewed the garments, myself. This is how we came into existence!
MD: What is the ethos behind your label?
HS: Working in the industry made me realistically view the damage it was causing to the planet. It led me to try reverse designing and doing away with chemically dyed poly silk to now use only Kora/Unbleached Cotton which is dye and bleach free and Kala Cotton which is organic cotton, but both are all handwoven. However to say the least ‘Zero Waste’ has always been a part of our practice.
Raasleela as a conscious label uses only environment friendly materials. Our clothes, mainly for women, are designed keeping in mind the remaining fabric and artisan’s skillsets. Herein, our end result is not to be just how beautiful, but having an edge over the others through greener processes.
To us ‘Zero Waste’ is more important than upcycling since the silhouettes, measurements and cutting layouts should create less waste. After patterning is done the leftover is all upcycled.
Know that material utility and simple processes can negate environmental issues. By that I mean making fast fashion out of upcycled product doesn’t really make sense because it’ll soon end up as waste. And most times upcycling involves complicated processes that increase the carbon foot print.
Our rejects after quality check too, are repaired and sold proudly!!!
MD: These pointers and pictures make it a must-have label for a die-hard sustainable fashion fan. What are the key elements of your SS19 collection, in terms of fabric, technique and silhouettes?
HS: We’ve designed the latest – ‘Tikdi collection’ with two inspirations – enough textile remnants and engaging with a new group of applique artisans. That makes the entire range appliqued with upcycled remnants from our previous collections.
So, if you’re done with supergreens for now, move onto donning and doffing this garb as your next best bet to happiness.