You can’t rush a Bagh artisan to make a hundred sarees in a short span of time, or have a folk artist make a rich Gond painting in a few hours…a master shawl weaver will need months to make a kani and no, your enameled silver earrings cannot be ready in a day. Authentic craft takes time. It works on its own rhythm. It uses local resources leaves negligible or no impact on the environment. And that’s literally the text book definition of slow-fashion…a movement gaining momentum in larger retail – led economies.
Crafts are, by their nature inherently tuned toward slow fashion that places more importance on ‘made to last’ rather than changing seasonal fashions and punishingly fast retail schedules. Slow fashion endeavors to ‘create’ rather than ‘manufacture’ – things of beauty that you savor, enjoy and preserve. With our traditional crafts we’ve been doing that in India for centuries, but can we stick to ‘slow fashion’ in a rapidly growing economy like ours?
(above: Designer Rosalind Pereira with local craftswomen in Uzbekistan)
We spoke to Rosalind Pereira, designer and owner of the Mumbai-based jewelry label Maya and an ardent proponent of slow fashion (each piece by the label is painstakingly handcrafted, respects the process of the craft and the artisan.) She believes slow fashion is here to stay, “With retail business models that have a high rack-to-landfill ratio, someone is paying the price – it could be the environment or the craftsmen whose skill is appropriated by a machine. Slow fashion is a step toward eliminating that. Even though it’s a very small segment right now, I see it growing organically as more and more design houses follow the route and the crafts person is able to get higher volumes.”
(above: Rosalind drew inspiration from the architecture and design details, including decorated bread, she encountered on her travels in Uzbekistan)
Slow fashion takes it real slow – right from seeking an inspiration for a product to creating the designs and crafting them with many hands and many minds working together. For its newest offering, Maya creates fabric and metal neck pieces inspired by the legendary Silk Route, a historic trade network spread from the Mediterranean to China. Rosalind was inspired by her travels to Uzbekistan; a culturally rich and diverse country and draws from its architecture.
(above: tassels with a story from the Silk Route become part of Rosalind’s fascinating handcrafted jewelry)
A slow fashion piece has a story to tell –like the tassels decorating some of the neckpieces in this collection. Rosalind tells us, “tassels of different colors were once used by travelers on the Silk Route to identify their fleet of horses and wagons among others’ when they stopped at sarais or traveler’s homes to rest. And this little nugget of information becomes an element in some of these necklaces.”
(above: intricate details in Rosalind Pereira’s handcrafted jewelry)
Rosalind believes that, “To hurry craft is to dilute its value. It should be allowed the time it needs, even at the cost of business. The necklaces in this collection were all made by hand, using components sourced from small family-run businesses and took several days to finish.” The result is storied pieces of jewelry that are bold and contemporary. Equal parts chic and mystic, these pieces are what slow fashion is all about – things of beauty, made to last.
PC: Dimple Agarwal, Rosalind Pereira, Jaypore