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Accepting Challenges And Earning Their Stripes - Story Of How Silai School Women Reached The Lakme Fashion Week

Accepting Challenges And Earning Their Stripes - Story Of How Silai School Women Reached The Lakme Fashion Week
Delhi: Following the two year success of Kushalta Ke Kadam initiative, this year the campaign returned with a new and bigger goal - to introduce the USHA Silai School women to the larger business dynamics of the fashion industry in India. By launching 'Silai' - USHA's latest sustainable fashion line - the campaign aimed at giving wings to the women entrepreneurs enrolled with the Silai School program. To make this project a one of its kind venture, Silai School women were introduced to some of the country's established fashion designers-turned-entrepreneurs and received training from them to improve on their expertise and professional skills.

What is interesting here is that we are not just providing the women with latest designs but are also offering them a context,said Sreejith Jevan, a Puducherry based fashion designer who worked alongside USHA Silai School women from Southern India to contribute to the 'Silai' label.

Since the launch of the label was set to take place at the Lakme Fashion Week in February 2018, the production of the clothing-line started in September 2017 with full gusto.

It is interesting to see how these women are so eager to learn new (techniques), said Sayantan Sarkar who was assigned to the group of women in Kolkata.

As designers, if we can impart what we know, like different nishes and types of stitches, to help them better their existing skillset then I think it will do them a world of good,he further added.

The women who were part of this assignment were grateful too, for the opportunity of not just learning from professional designer but working with them on line that will be eventually make it to the ramp of one of the major fashion events in the country.

The most special thing about our experience was that we had the opportunity to learn the minutest of the details of tailoring, said Suganti, an USHA Silai School entrepreneur in Puducherry.

Out of the 79 women initially chosen to be part of this experience, there was further shortlisting and only 46 women made it through to the final team, after a thorough assessment program where the designers assessed the skills of these women. The assessment process was designed to test how qualified were the women to produce a high-quality fashion line. It was anything but an easy task.

Most of these women's strength was to make custom made blouses, said Sreejith Jevan. They would often stick to making simple clothes like sarees or kurtas, so to get them to produce a clothing line for a fashion label was challenging but, nonetheless, interesting.

Before the final process even began, I didn't expect the designers to give us much attention, said Suganti. However, the seven-day training that we received really helped us in knowing what a finished garment should look like.

While the women were apprehensive about the training they would receive, the designers were often left impressed by the level of dedication and enthusiasm they saw in the women.

They came up with impressive textures and ideas that even took me by surprise, said Sayantan Sarkar. In just a matter of ten days, these women had actually begun stitching fashionable outfits.

However, the best part about this journey, as shared by Sayantan, was that the women were happier about being able to stitch an ultra-fashion line than having it actually exhibited at the Lakme Fashion Week.

Terming them as 'warriors' designer Sreejith said that these women were in-fact not scared of experimenting and were always on-their-toes when it came to working hard.

Breaking age-old shackles and moving forward towards a bright new future, these women who had earlier never experienced such an advanced level of guidance, made sure that they use every bit of knowledge gained from the designers. As designer Sreejith sums up the spirit of this women, "Every constraint is an opportunity." And through their Silai school experience these women have learnt not miss opportunities that come their way.

Also Read: From Mud Houses To Ritzy Runways, Silai School Women's New Journey

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Adopt a Silai School

Adopt a Silai School

Do you want to be a part of the huge change that Usha Silai School is bringing about in the lives of millions of rural women? With just a simple click of a button, you can now contribute towards the opening of an Usha Silai School or support various other aspects of the school.

About the Initiative

About the Initiative

Kushalta Ke Kadam, an initiative by NDTV and USHA, aims at empowering women from rural India and encourages them to become entrepreneurs by taking up sewing and training others in their respective communities. Since 2011 Usha Silai Campaign has trained more than 3.95 lakh rural women within five years, with 17,000 Silai schools, spanning over 9272 Indian villages in India.

 

Kushalta Ke Kadam in Season 4 has returned with new goals and vision. The new season will witness the establishment of the new cluster in Kashmir, apart from the existing four clusters setup last year. The women from volatile Kashmir will work with well-known fashion designer Rohit Bal and get an unique opportunity to learn from him and make clothes for him. The work done by the Silai School women will be presented at Lakme Fashion week 2019.

 

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In Pics

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching
Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Rebari girls grow up learning traditional embroidery, which along with their new found sewing skills developed at Usha Silai Schools, is helping them earn a living.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School has empowered many rural women to support their family and send their children to school.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The Usha Silai School, established in a small nondescript village that goes by the name of Kottai, is helping empower people from varied communities.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

The all-inclusive Usha Silai School Programme covers the entire nation from hamlets tucked between hills to villages cast by the sea.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Vegetables farmers from the Mizoram hills earn very little given the topography of the area. Usha Silai Schools have played an important part in this region by skilling women to financially contribute towards their households.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School learner Lucy has trained seven other women in her community, helping them to become financially independent.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Women like Kaviben from the nomadic Rebari community are finally laying down their roots as they begin to gain financial independence and thereby stability through Usha Silai School.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, located in the Gujarat's Bhuj village, is enabling rural women to earn as much as Rs. 2,500-4,000 each month.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Usha Silai School, in association with a Gujarat based NGO called Kala Raksha, is trying to bring about a Silai revolution in Bhuj.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

Besides training other women from their community, many Usha Silai School learners have become entrepreneurs in their own right.

Kushalta ke Kadam: Aiming for Independence Through Stitching

With sewing becoming easily accessible and lucrative, the silai schools are also helping revive traditional motifs and designs.

Fashion Designers This Season

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  • Rohit Bal

    Rohit Bal

  • Sayantan Sarkar

    Sayantan Sarkar

  • Shaila Khubchandani

    Shaila Khubchandani

  • Sreejith Jeevan

    Sreejith Jeevan

  • Swati Vijaivargie

    Swati Vijaivargie

Fashion Designers This Season

More
  • Rohit Bal

    Rohit Bal

  • Sayantan Sarkar

    Sayantan Sarkar

  • Shaila Khubchandani

    Shaila Khubchandani

  • Sreejith Jeevan

    Sreejith Jeevan

  • Swati Vijaivargie

    Swati Vijaivargie