A Homegrown Brand Is Upcycling Old Sarees Into Genderless Streetwear

Manai is creating upcycled 'skanky' clothing.
Manai is creating upcycled 'skanky' clothing.Manai

Having born and raised with the internet, Gen Z are often called 'identity nomads' because of their exposure to diverse cultures and multi-narrative expressions. This generation doesn't function in dichotomies, it enjoys the polarized world of globalization and hyper-localism, experimenting and exploring ways to express themselves that don't put them in a box. They are the true cultural omnivores. In India, this has manifested through a confluence of tradition and modernity in music, fashion, cuisines and aesthetics.

Crafting a similar blend of Indian cultural heritage and contemporary streetwear, an emerging brand called Manai is creating upcycled 'skanky' clothing. The brand uses discarded Indian textiles like old sarees to create contemporary oversized silhouettes with its crop jackets, shirts, overcoats, corsets and 'convertor pants' that can double as shorts. The traditional Indian silk textures, embroideries, and motifs all come together to build multicultural statement pieces through patchwork.


Manai is the brainchild of Smruthi Manai, a fashion content writer, fashion designer and a brand development manager. She is the creative director and designer for the brand constantly shares the process behind the clothing on their Instagram from hunting for textiles and sketching the designs to the tailoring. Through the brand, Smruthi is reviving pre-owned clothes that are sometimes 15 years old like her mother's and aunt's sarees to create genderless, punk and playful wearables.

After almost 2 decades of the West dictating streetwear trends in India, the last couple of years has seen an emergence of traditional Indian textiles like khadi and bandhani, handloom fabrics and threadwork as well as Indian motifs dominate the streetwear market. The result is a conscious, cross-cultural aesthetic that embodies the connection to our roots in a futuristic approach that brands like Manai are at the forefront of.

Follow and shop Manai here.