‘I was a Sari’ makes pure lifestyle clothing and accessories, turning pre-loved Indian saris into the soul of a unique new style, and women artisans from Mumbai into the designers of their own future. In a world where profit margins are all too often the absolute priority, ‘I was a Sari’ Circular Design sees things differently – taking an eco-ethical approach to fashion. ‘I was a Sari’ is implementing a sustainable, eco-friendly model which focuses on a “triple bottom line” – constantly analysing its social, environmental and financial impact, and understanding the relationship each element has with the others. In short, ‘I was a Sari’ is a zero-dividend initiative that invests all its profits back into developing the brand and advancing its main cause – the empowerment of women.
On the 23rd of August 2019, from 900 entries to eight finalists and then the winner of the first sustainability award in fashion – I Was A Sari showcased at the Lakme Fashion Week Winter/ Festive 2019 after winning the Circular Designed Challenge launched in partnership with Fashion For Earth” by Reliance Industries Limited’s (RIL) polyester brand R|Elan™, UN Environment and Lakmé Fashion Week.
Mr. Vipul Shah, COO – Petrochemicals, Reliance Industries Ltd., said: “The alliance of RIL’s R|Elan™ with the UN Environment and LFW is committed towards changing the path of fashion, reducing its negative environmental and social impacts and turning fashion into a driver for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. We were truly amazed to see the elegant creations from the showcased ‘I was a Sari’ collection, which truly stands for circularity and sustainability. With the overwhelming response that the collection has received, we are confident that it will inspire many more talents to adopt circularity concepts.”
The focus of the collection was to stand to the values of I Was A Sari, values that are imbibed with functionality and sustainability. In total 18 up-cycled looks hand crafted by women artisans by using pre-used saris and other waste materials were showcased at the platform provided at the studio by Lakme Fashion Week Winter/ Festive 2019. The concept behind I Was a Sari of reinventing the traditional concept of up- cycling old saris and creating new stylised garments, accessories, footwear and bags was of Stefano Funari and Poornima Pande and they launched it in the year 2013.
The whole studio turned into the I Was a Sari concept with hand embroidered different garments at the entrance, followed by bundles of saris depicting their raw material, models at the centre adorned with up-cycled creations worn and showcased beautifully. The highlight was three models dressed as Vaghris, the Indian nomadic community that has been operating the informal old clothes recycling trade for centuries, and surrounded by the utensils that they traditionally barter for old. At the exit was a display of embroidered products from the brand like footwear, bags, turbans and accessories.
The prints with high quality textures and surface ornamentation gave a new look and feel to old saris which were converted into chic designs. The collection had features of relaxed silhouettes, a rainbow of colours and prints as well as a season less fashion thrust that could make the garments ideal lounge or resort wear with mix and match options. India’s much-loved saris were transformed into stylish creations that would appeal to a wide spectrum of national and international buyers.
The men’s blue, printed, coordinate set of an anti-fit Cuban-collar shirt and pants, which had pops of teal and mustard was a treat. Vibrant colours of pink, purple and yellow stood out on the bell-sleeved V-neck top with a half-pleated midi skirt. Turbans, footwear, hats, scarves, bags and jewellery by ‘I was a Sari’ Circular Design styled on all the models to give a unified look to the presentation. This collection came alive through a unique and special engagement with Gucci employees. Thanks to the Gucci Changemakers initiative, 24 employees from the Gucci design office contributed ideas,
knowledge and insight during a week of immersion with ‘I was a Sari’ Circular Design women artisans in the company’s Roman studio.