Looking at today’s environmental conditions, the textile industry requires a shift in paradigm towards sustainable fashion. On an average, 1.2 billion tonnes of waste is generated as a byproduct of manufacturing blended machine made fabrics. With the use of natural fertilisers in farming and natural dyes in yarn colouring, we can reduce the carbon footprint to an absolute zero.
While looking for designers to collaborate with, I came across a young, aspiring individual who threw light on the concept of sustainability and it’s role in inculcating the idea on a day-to-day basis. I was just in love with the thought of making a conscious effort in the way we select outfits – Have less but have amazing ones.
Having graduated from NIFT in textiles and fashion, Richa Banjara has taken the initiative of supporting the art of making handwoven textiles and develop employment opportunities for weavers who have mastered their skill for generations. Recognising the important of this heritage, she started her clothing brand – Rural Conversations.
RURAL CONVERSATIONS –‘We create fabric that creates fashion’
‘Stacked with wild grass
Raw in its form, facing drought
Yet powerful and warm
Small kids peeping from behind the trees
And legs curious enough to hear the sound of our jeep
Leaving behind a sandstorm as it makes it way through thick and thin
Welcomed in the middle of nowhere!
Rhythmic loom sounds
Gathered by twenty people, different stories to listen to
Each voice trying to be heard
I realise, small are the joys of living a good life
And difficult are the circumstances we can easily overcome.’
This is how Richa words her introduction to the world of Indian textiles as a part her university days at NIFT and what formed the basis of her brand- Rural Conversations. Richa Banjara believes in the philosophy of reviving Indian Handlooms – ‘Revival’ is a long process that is a function of time and quantifiable metrics. It requires many people to work in a given space over a period of time to ensure that the craft has enough demand for consistent employment. The limitations faced by the handloom Industry against introduction of machine made textiles as huge competitors led to its downfall. Having stayed with the villagers for almost 15 days, she understood the importance Indian textile carries and the support it needs to become the voice of contemporary fashion. Her brand caters to the development of handwoven textiles using traditional techniques of spinning, weaving and embroidery to create apparels that form an expression of relevance in global fashion.
Founded in 2018, they start with the concept of fibre to fashion using yarns that are hand-spun, naturally dyed and handwoven on pit-looms following a process that contributes to an ethical model of creation which is most considerate of humanity and the environment. They create different fabrics like Kala Cotton, Kora cotton and Khadi with weavers in Kutch and Surendranagar districts in Gujarat as of now. The brand’s goal is to work towards a system that does not leave negative carbon footprint by promoting slow fashion and fair fashion and to recognise the ‘karigars’ as partners, collaborators and equals. Since the whole family is involved in the process of weaving, every small step taken contributes to an effort of making a wearable piece of art/textile. It creates employment opportunities for most of rural India because of its division in each sector. Rural Conversations hopes to create an eco-friendly lifestyle with their efforts in maintaining balance in the business of fashion and promote being a conscious fashion buyer.
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I wear apparels designed with fabrics from Rural Conversation….. these are the most comfortable fabrics I have ever worn, very much suitable to the composite climate I live in where it is hot for almost eight months of the year. These fabrics breathe and become softer with every wash. Unlike other cotton fabrics they don’t even fade away. Moreover if they reduce the carbon footprint of our planet I would heartily continue to use them for a sustainable initiative.
Keep up the good work Richa Banjara…. it’s a long way India needs to go. Only a collective initiative will bring about a positive change much required in the textile industry of the country.
I absolutely loved this idea of eco sustainable clothing and using kala cotton n khadi fabrics which are handwoven .They create less synthetic junk and are extremely durable,.Looking forward to purchase from the brand as I stay in a tropical n humid place which needs these kind of natural and breathable fabric …its a great way to introduce our traditional weaves to the generation next.Well done Richa!