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Follow The Journey Of Silai Fashion Label: Women In Kolkata And Puducherry Get To Work With Their Fashion Designer Mentors

Follow The Journey Of Silai Fashion Label: Women In Kolkata And Puducherry Get To Work With Their Fashion Designer Mentors
Delhi: 'My name is Sayantan Sarkar and I am working with USHA's Silai team of Dakhin Bangla (South Bengal),' says the designer who is also the owner of his own fashion brand named Sayantan Sarkar - Design Studio. Sayantan is one of the four designers donning the role of creative influencers for the 'Silai' fashion label project. Taking inspiration from the suburbs of Bengal, Sayantan looked to present the traditional with a contemporary flair, in the fashion line he was creating with the women from the Silai school.

Most designs are inspired by the (USHA Silai School) women who work here, he said. It includes individual characteristics of each of them, aim is to show that despite living in far flung interiors of the country, they are still aware of what's fashionable and what's not.

He guided the women from the southern cluster of the state to design and sew garments that reflect the culture of Kolkata. As part of the production process, Sayantan travelled extensively through the city with the women in his team. This tour was to encourage them to draw inspiration from the character of the place. He hoped that walking through various streets and markets, will encourage the women to think out of the box when working out the patterns and textures of the garments.

We saw places with a certain type of flowers that became the floral prints we used and other inspirations came from the pictures we clicked of the ponds and the trees he said. So, it is completely about the stories of these women and the ambience they live and work in.

Similar technique was used by Sreejith Jeevan, designer and owner of ROUKA and mentor to the women from the Puducherry cluster.

"It first began with evaluating what the women were doing and the products that they were making to understand the skill set they had," said Sreejith who was determined to break the mould in which these women were working in and encourage them to try their hands at newer designs.

The skills they had were of basic sewing, so our aim was to provide finishing to their existing techniques, in order to introduce them to the market that USHA's Silai label was to launch in.He further adds, since, these women were only used to creating simple garments, my job was to give them a new inspiration, Sreejith said. So, why not hold a design workshop?, he wondered.

Sreejith's design workshop taught the women new techniques like patch-work, print development and new cutting models for clothes like chudidaars and trousers.

As the two designers worked their way to understanding their team's skills, training them in areas they lacked and preparing the women to create something they had never done before, the overall collection started to fall in place. Both clusters stuck to their regions' ethos to which the women of Silai School contributed passionately and ended up with a fashion collection that was both modern and a glimpse into the journey of the lives of these women.

Usha International has been expanding its network of Silai Schools across India and overseas to Nepal and Sri Lanka for the past seven years. However, this year, the goal was to do more than just provide sewing training to the underprivileged women around and outside the country.

Our (Usha International) chairman, Krishna Shriram, thought that the idea of providing sewing training and enhancing the skills of these women was great but we could do more to boost their creativity said Priya Somaiya, executive director of USHA Social Services. Since a lot of fashion events take place in India, we thought this could be the best platform to showcase the talents of these women. This led us to conceptualise the idea of the fashion label 'Silai'.

79 participants from Usha Silai across the country, started this unique journey of redefining their skill and creating a fashion label. Only 33 of them managed to make it to the next stage of the shortlisting process and reach the most crucial stage of the journey - the production of the final garments. Following another round of assessment process, the women were divided into four clusters based on four specific regions of India.

We have seen the work that USHA International has been doing at the grass-root level all these years and are glad to be partnering with them to launch their new label said Jaspreet Singh Chandok, Vice President and Head of Fashion at IMG Reliance.

It's a dream run for these Silai school women. From back and beyond corners of India, where they had their own tailoring shops or silai schools, to taking centrestage at a prestigious event like Lakme Fashion Week, it is what fairy tales are made of.

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

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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

More
  • 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