Known for working with Indian weaves and designs that preserve living heritage, Indian designer Shruti Sancheti’s contemporary, globally relevant collections use near-extinct indigenous textiles and hand embellishment. The brand has closely worked with rural clusters of craftsmen throughout the country and continues to bring to life textile craft that would have otherwise languished.
Zero waste and handcrafted luxury are the touchstones for designers aspiring towards a sustainable future of fashion. One such designer is Shruti Sancheti based in Nagpur, India. Interestingly, fashion design wasn’t her first profession though she undertook fashion, jewellery and textile design. Post- graduation, she joined International Institute of Fashion Design [INIFD] as Head Of Design and after a satisfying tenure as educationist, launched her eponymous couture label in 2010 with a two-pronged vision to resuscitate near-extinct indigenous textiles and empower rural craft clusters.
”Having been raised in Kolkata, and been exposed to art and culture since childhood, my deep love for Indian weaves and textile craft has been an inherent part of my creative process right from the launch of my label. I sourced indigenous weaves directly from the weavers and worked with centuries-old textile craft and hand printing techniques. It has immense potential if the design and styling of the collections is modern and globally-relevant. Working mostly with rural craft clusters, I built a brand that embraces indigenous textiles and a modern design aesthetic so that the collections are relevant in India and overseas” she explains. ”Social and economic responsibility towards planet, people and profit are the core ideology powering my brand. Handlooms and eco- friendly fabrics are not the only components of sustainability; it includes fair wages, ethical work conditions, zero wastage, azo- free dyes and empowering craftspeople. When we’re creating collections and we’re talking about sustainability, do we valuing craftspeople integral to the process? These are questions I ask myself. Sustainability and the need for craftspeople to be paid fairly for time-consuming work by hand is integral to my processes.”
The challenges of a sustainable model is one the fashion industry is facing as a whole. Shruti Sancheti streamlines her production process to maintain a stringent ethical standard. Her most popular collection is one crafted with ahimsa mulberry silk yarn, where the pupa is not killed in the drawing of yarn from mulberry cocoons. The message is clear: stop killing silk worms in the name of fashion. Following the success of her couture label, Shruti Sancheti expanded her brand with the launch of a ready-to-wear label ‘Pinnacle by Shruti Sancheti’ and relished the challenge of making stylish garments that were affordable, sustainable and honours the roots. ”Indian pret is in its infancy and versatile, stylish, affordable apparel for daily wear was the need of the hour so in September 2018, I launched a second label”, she says. ”The pret label was also a response to the growing e-commerce space which developed a need-gap for stylish, pocket-friendly clothes that could be purchased online. Accessories was a natural extension.”
The future is unpredictable during the ongoing pandemic but if designers build a brand ideology and stick to it, nothing can deter them from forging ahead. Currently, Shruti Sancheti has three stores in India, two for the pret label in Delhi [including Delhi International airport] and one that houses the couture label in Mumbai. The brand also retails through fashion houses in India and in the Middle East, France, Denmark, South Africa, the UK, the United States, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.
To revive India’s indigenous handloom industry by designing globally relevant, current silhouettes with centuries-old handwoven textiles; this is achieved by employing rural craftspeople whose work is native to a particular region.
To work with craftspeople throughout the country to revive near-extinct indigenous handwoven textiles; without sacrificing style for sustainability, the designer has made indigenous Indian weaves desirable on a global stage.