Tracing fashion history of the past decades, folksy embroidery which was seen as a trend in the 70’s, has resurfaced in the 2020s. Taking cue, as handcrafted is a novelty during these trying times for the artisans, I found an year old Brinda Dudhat’s Morii Design. The name ‘Mori’ has been derived from a Japanese trend dedicated to a girl living a cheerful, natural life in the forest. Her label specializes in avant garde folksy hand embroidery on natural fibres for prêt-à-porter. After studying Textile Designing at National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, she worked as a design consultant for a World Bank Funded project- Jiyo! with The Asian Heritage Foundation, in New Delhi. The project, guided by Rajeev Sethi, aimed at providing livelihood to the marginalized craft communities of India. For it, she led a Sujni embroidery cluster of Bihar and a Kalamkari one in Andhra Pradesh.
In May 2019, she moved back to her hometown Gandhinagar, Gujarat and founded Morii Design. There, with her partner Sonu Yadav, a Graphic Designer from NID, conducted design workshops with 2 artisan communities to further explore their embroidery techniques. In that process abstract-contemporary artworks were created. With it they developed a plethora of things like embroidered saris, garments, wall-art, home and clothing accessories in tiny batches, using only natural colours.
Her each product is distinctive with one of a kind embroidery artwork.
Curious to know this 25 year old’s way forward, we asked her few questions.
MD: How do you plan to move forward with this seemingly unending pandemic recession?
BD: Yes, this pandemic sure has brought things to a halt for us! I had just managed to stock our products at few stores early this year, when everything got shut down. Then we started an online shop, but are still struggling to sell on it, as we are a relatively young brand with not enough reach in the market. And due to our rigorous processes of creating one of a kind naturally dyed embroidered products, our costs are high; making it unaffordable for the many who are showing an interest.
I am right now trying to reach out to influencers who hold sustainability high up in the chain of events. We are also showing our processes, behind each product through social media to build an awareness regarding our prices as a conscious brand.
Besides, early this year we were selected to exhibit and sell at an exhibition in London, called ‘One Year In’ that promotes young brands, but that too stands cancelled due to the pandemic. I wish there were similar opportunities in our county, that identified serious emerging talent like ours!
MD: How will you manage to sustain your craftsmen from hereon?
BD: Because of the lockdown, I am facing a cash crunch. I had trained 2 groups of artisans in Kutch. One consists of 20 from the Jat community of Sumrasar village and the other has 6 from Madhapar and Anjar villages. Since May 2019 I have conducted 5 workshops for these artisans in their villages. That paid off, as we have built a good rapport with them now. That’s why, right now, I am able to work with them remotely by sending couriers and following up on the processes through Whatsapp and calls. I, consider myself lucky to have some very skilled and clever artisans on board.
As each day passes, find myself opening up to collaborations and commissioned work rather than sticking to my own production. Currently, am creating commissioned saris for a client in Bangalore and also working with a Delhi based brand for whom I will be training a group of Kantha embroiderers in West Bengal.
MD: Tell us a bit more about your artisan communities and their work?
As mentioned earlier in May 2019, with the support from DENA-RSETI (Rural Self-Employment and Training Institute) in Bhujodi, Kutch we trained 2 groups of artisans in Kutch Villages.
The Jat village of Sumrasar, 30 kilometres from the main Bhuj city, sheltered the migrants from Balochistan during partition. Hailing from Pakistan, some 200 years ago, this village is an unspoken tale of evolution and heritage. The beautiful barren landscape has built its own language of details and patterns. The Islamic pastoralists, brought with them a lineage of Jat embroidery.
Garasia Jat embroidery is a counted thread work, in which crisscross patterns are embellished keeping in rhythm with the warp and weft of the fabric. Traditionally, the embroidery is done in such a way that the base fabric is covered with cross- stitches which cannot be seen at all. That makes it all the more labour-intensive and expensive and probably the most.
Have studied most embroidery styles of India, in my opinion the Kutchi style is the most advanced e.g. their ‘Bavaliyo’ motif in constructed of 12 steps. One must check out our Kutchi Bharat collection, originally done by the women in the same district, with very complex stitches.
Now, more than ever, the spenders should be conservatively looking at timelesseness in fashion while supporting individuals or labels which are co-creating to sustain a circular economy. Personally I’m looking forward to her immaculately done complex embroidery patterns translated for a more cosmopolitan look with characteristic cuts.