Paiwand Studio Turns Traditional Textiles Into Contemporary Ethical Couture

Brainstorming slow design solutions to a fast fashion ecosystem.
Brainstorming slow design solutions to a fast fashion ecosystem.Paiwand Studio

Does anyone bother to mend their clothes anymore? Whether it be the rafoogars from Kashmir matching the weave of a moth eaten shawl or even your own grandmother repurposing household linen into patchwork embroidery with a simple kantha stitch, prolonging the lifespan of store-bought fabrics has been relegated to the treadle of our socially marginalized darzi (tailor) by the roadside. In a heartfelt homage to the lost culture of repairing what’s damaged instead of replacing it without a second thought, the Noida-based upcycling label Paiwand Studio began with car loads of katran (scrap fabric) and a young couturier’s discovery that while we are buying way more clothing than we used to, the time we actually spend wearing them has dropped by more than 40 per cent.

Social entrepreneur Ashita Singhal has come a long way since she conceptualised her graduation project from the mound of surplus flat yarn in a pattern making class at design school. Intertwining her zero-waste, small batch vocabulary into a wooden loom powered startup in 2018, Ashita envisioned restoring the dignity of artistry to weaving clusters and injecting the melody of recycling in our fast fashion, throwaway echo chambers. From adapting hand-spun textiles to upholster a furniture console for Faridabad-based studio Mangrove Collective to transforming almost 80 kg of leather offcuts into a capsule collection of footwear for homegrown brand Oceedee, the B2B synergy that Paiwand Studio has cultivated with almost 35 other conscious designers cannot be underestimated in the context of sustainability.

Their team of weavers is reviving the handloom craft in India.
Their team of weavers is reviving the handloom craft in India.Paiwand Studio

Collaborating with local ragpickers, trader colonies like Sanjay Market in New Delhi and their forward thinking followers on social media, the atelier conjures up bobbins from post-consumer waste after segregating them by fibre and colour profiles. The strips of a hand-me-down T shirt or tattered dhurries (blankets) are then glued into the weft that will become an incarnation of a geometric khadi overlay jacket or a chanderi silk kurta, meaningfully closing the loop in their circular garment model.

From non binary apparel to rugs crafted from reclaimed leather, the designs are countless.
From non binary apparel to rugs crafted from reclaimed leather, the designs are countless.L:, R:

Upending the visual canvas, the studio morphs traditional pieces into a dizzying lineup of reclaimed rugs, cushion covers, beautifully tessellated saris with hints of zari and oversized shirts brandishing camp collars. Bespoke offerings like their disruptive Houndstooth Jacket or Chromatic Dreams Co-ord Set are not brought into the world by visionaries working in isolation but from a tenacious collaboration between in-house masters and craftspeople who all get a say in this 360 degrees of ingenuity.

Before terms like 'circular economy' and 'slow living' appeared in the contemporary vernacular, Indians had been reimagining secondhand dhotis into a baby's swaddle or worn out churidars into handkerchiefs and scarves for centuries, the spirit of evolving a wellness wardrobe from deadstock fibre deeply embedded in our collective psyche. But somewhere along the way, in our desperation to compete with mass produced haberdashery from the West, we lost our roots.

Design houses like Paiwand Studio signify cultural markers to help us rediscover the ancient ways again.

Explore their sustainable fashion universe here.

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