There might be a slight chance now but a greater one in the future that we might be able to remember the Coronavirus pandemic, despite all the havoc it has caused, as that inadvertent bump on the road that forces us to slow down and reconsider our locomotory precipitateness.
Expedient globalisation and the gargantuan spectre of consumerism have made sure that we have at least five or ten of anything. While we have nothing against people who love to shop, it is also not completely unfair to question if we want to ‘fill-up’ only to feel full?
There are no two ways about the fact that we need alternatives to fast-fashion and random consumerism. At the same time, we also need people and brands who will go the extra mile to ensure that provision and fairness is accorded to the side that neither consumes what is produced nor can they find the luxury to resort to not consuming what they don’t produce.
Sofiya Deva, founder and CEO of This Same Sky, a purpose-driven, design-centric, community-minded, lifestyle brand focused on empowering artisan communities around the world and enabling mindful living, is a social entrepreneur of the same heart. Sofiya, who is extremely passionate about promoting Indian crafts, believes that at the end of the day, it’s about the industry taking up the responsibility and enabling quality life and livelihood for all those who contribute to it. Sofiya’s and her brand’s mission is, “to create products that inspire an intentional lifestyle with a global consciousness while preserving traditional arts and connecting artisans with new markets and fans.”
The same values are reflected in This Same Sky’s latest offering – premium, minimalist, hand-printed scarves in the Intuition Series, which are produced following a small-batch approach. Upon being introduced to Sofiya, far beyond the product itself, we were intrigued by the process, what went into the making, and what it stood for.
This is why, when Homegrown had the opportunity of speaking with Sofiya, we asked her elaborately about minimalism, the artisan-consumer nexus, luxury versus sustainability, a non-western centric module of minimalism, and ecofeminism.
Bangalore-born and US-bred Sofiya realised that a lot could be done for an industry that has traditionally been associated with child labour, unequal wages, and environmental damage. The centrality of the same thought reflects in This Same Sky’s foundational values as well. The brand principally believes in the preciousness of moments and the cyclical nature of time, the importance of community and shared experience, and making space for intuition through stories.
The brand aspires to create products that help people cultivate presence, while also living a meaningful life. Sofiya’s brand statement maintains, “For everything we do, we think about the impact in the short and the long term. The connection to the environment and the legacy we leave behind are as important as the design choices we make, and that is the bottom line.”
Their most recent offering, the Intuition Series of scarves and bandanas, reflects this very thought. Inspired by radiance and rootedness, the series is a keen reminder of the fact that we need to let go of stagnation and move ahead with a sense of abundance. The scarves take inspiration from earthly affirmations, the lunar cycle, and sonic waves in order to instil in one fresh energy and motivation to move ahead.
Sofiya’s trip to Jaipur made her realise that the first step was to connect with artisans. She realised that there is a need for the fashion community to truly respect them for what they bring to the table and enable them to sustain in good conditions. “The scarves in our Intuition Series are created in partnership with artisans in Sanganer, near Jaipur, India. Many of our artisans have inherited their knowledge and know-how through their families, and their art and skill have been passed down over multiple generations. While working with them, we’ve had the pleasure of learning more about their techniques and traditions, the two primary ones being: block and screen printing.” Placing the artisan at the centre of the process, she says, “our vision is to bring together a strong network of empowered artisans around the world producing internationally-renowned designs, accessories and decor.”
The pandemic lockdown was an especially difficult phase for everyone across the industry. It goes without saying that it was the artisan community that suffered the most, however. Sofiya says, “We wanted to be a resource for them – someone they could fall back on. During the lockdown, the artisans took the initiative of getting special emergency passes to have their samples moved. This gesture but it meant so much to us.” She believes that the industry carries the burden of multi-nodal problems and consequently, our responsibility is multi-fold. Her brand statement reflects the same: “We are all here because others have loved and invested in us. A sense of belonging and community inspires us and gives us purpose. We want to reveal and strengthen our interconnectedness. Whether through handcrafted textiles, authentic relationships, or global-local collaborations, our practice is one of listening to, honouring and weaving together the many threads of our shared experience.”
This Same Sky believes that without stories, we are all lost: “We believe there are many routes to empowerment, but ours consists of celebrating artisans around the world while telling stories that awaken us to our inter-connectedness.”
Inspired by ecofeminism, the visual legend of their products function as a tool to empower and function as a tool to affirm the wearer’s embodied experience as they navigate life’s transitions and rhythms. The Intuition Series, for instance, is a homage to feminine wisdom and wonder.
Minimalism, as a concept, has always been conflated with the western ideal. Everything monochrome and overly expensive, however, is not necessarily minimalistic. Conceptually, minimalism means doing more with less. Minimalism is about mindfulness and local sensibility. This Same Sky, which tries to merge consciousness with the Indian tradition, works with the revolutionary ideal that there’s no one look of minimalism. Our sense of minimalism can be tailored according to our own accord. A flexible, meaningful, and a connected approach to the concept is necessary to demystify it. Owing to this approach, This Same Sky’s curation is tailored for consumers of different kinds – the Powerful Professional, the Intention Setter, the Sustainable Influencer, and the Health Maker.
Speaking about curating the perfect minimalist slow fashion wardrobe, Sofiya says, “A slow fashion wardrobe is a combination of different experiences – they can be items picked up from thrift stores, some can be hand-me-downs, some others can be legacy items, and some special luxury statement pieces that truly speak to you can be included. The idea is to shop thoughtfully and rather than going back what might look attractive on a model, considering what a particular item would make us feel. We must try to consider the entire picture before putting something in our cart.” Sofiya says that in order to keep her principles steady, she keeps a photograph of a landfill saturated with cloth-based waste in order to implore her mind to consider the impact of one weak moment of casual online shopping.
Finally, Sofiya says that adopting a conscious lifestyle is also about unlearning our toxic patterns of consumerism. Luxury fashion needs to have a trendsetting impact on the rest of society. It needs to siphon down values that steer the industry towards mindfulness, care, and sustainability.
While their journey begins in Jaipur with block printers, dyers and tailors, Sofiya and her team, Creative Director, Melody Tarver and Community Manager, Delaney Smith, are also exploring partnerships in Chitral, Pakistan, and their hometown of Dallas, Texas.
You can find more about This Same Sky here.
If you enjoyed reading this article, we suggest you also read: