Saris offer a story of rich culture and heritage told through weaves and textiles. Each state and community in India has put their own spin on the sari, from Kanjeevaram saris in Tamil Nadu to Nauvari sarees in Maharashtra, and more. Saris are also one of the most accessible pieces of clothing, available in a range of prices, colours, and styles. They are also one of the most inclusive – flattering every kind of body, and are even perfect for hot Indian summers. So it is no wonder that they are a staple of any Indian woman’s closet.
CEO Palak Shah and her father Bharat Shah founded Ekaya in 2012, to bridge the gap between designers and weavers and to make traditional textiles and weaves accessible and contemporary for a more modern, new-age audience. The business was launched to give Banarasi silk a more modish feel and vibe. Now celebrating 10 years, the brand is looking back on its journey to look at things from a new perspective and to understand its view of sustainability.
A few years ago the brand launched its Revival Project, a private project with each individual client to restore old damaged heirloom saris, lehengas, or textile pieces. The project then preserved, restored, and revived old woven heirlooms to their former glory for future generations to wear and enjoy.
Ekeya has now launched its Second Chance project, an initiative to resell and revive pre-owned heirloom textiles. Through their five Rs - Resell, Restore, Revive, Rewear, and Repurpose, they aim to help people love and cherish their heirloom pieces forever, whether or not they are Ekaya pieces. Sentimentality is a vital part of any heirloom piece and personal connections are formed with pieces of clothing that have been passed down through generations, especially when the pieces have a celebratory or festive context to them.
For old Ekaya pieces, the brand encourages its clients to Resell and Restore. They can either resell the piece for a marked-down price and select another Ekaya piece or transform the piece into something else like a jacket or a pair of trousers.
Their Revival and Restore services involve re-weaving the textile piece entirely or simply restoring them to a stage where future generations can dress in and appreciate their heritage pieces.
The Rewear service teaches people how to style their old Ekaya saris in a new way and encourages its patrons to dig deep in their wardrobes to find new things to pair the piece with instead of purchasing a new accessory. It is all about finding the inspiration to rewear a piece.
The brand, which was launched to shock and shake up the traditional world of Banarasi silk saris, considers itself sustainable at its core. For them, it is not only about what kind of yarn they use but also taking care of the weavers and employees, and challenging them to be more creative in the way they think of textiles, designs, weaving styles, and motifs. As Palak Shah said in a Vogue interview, “The possibilities are infinite. Like when our weavers used loosely twisted yarn to achieve the raised effect and thicker texture of Chikankari on a fabric. Or something as simple as doing away with sari borders (which was previously the norm).” Sustainability and innovation are at the core of the brand, across four generations of the family and a community of over 10,000 weavers contributing to the Ekaya heritage. Their manifesto is based on the principles of heritage and artisanship, not only to buy new pieces but also to help you appreciate the heirloom pieces that you already own.
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