Sustainable Fashion Brand Mishé Weaves Sign Language Into Its Collection

Sustainable Fashion Brand Mishé Weaves Sign Language Into Its Collection

Fashion is no longer limited to being only a form of creative expression. It extends to larger issues of identity, accessibility, and its impact on the world. Once in a while, we come across a brand with its heart in the right place and Mumbai-based Mishé is one such fashion label. Founded in 2018 by mother-daughter duo Bhumika and Minakshi Ahluwalia, the brand tells a story of their bond whilst having sustainability at the heart of it. Bhumika debuted the brand at the virtual event for Lakme Fashion Week in 2020 under the Gen Next Category and bagged the GenNext 2020 for her collection ‘Shuwa’.

The inspiration for the collection came from sign language – Shuwa translated from Japanese stands for sign language. Bhumika picked up the technique and skills for it while studying in New York. Inspired by sign language, the designs lay a keen emphasis on the shape and geometry of the design and focus on replicating hand gestures. The duo researched a lot for their designs and it shows in the intricate cord embroidery and cut-outs that are a part of the separates and dresses in the collection.

“ I took up a sign language class at Parsons. The way my professor taught us even though he was differently-abled inspired me. I knew I had to incorporate this somewhere in my designs. When I started working on our second collection for Mishé,  I instantly connected with Sign language. We, at Mishé, get inspired by Geometry and Architecture – the shapes and forms created by hand gestures inspired us to juxtapose it into silhouettes. We used cord embroidery that was inspired by palm lines. We name every collection after a Japanese name. ‘Shuwa’ means ‘sign language’ in Japanese, hence the name.” 

— Bhumika Ahluwalia

The slow fashion brand is also conscious of its impact on the environment and is critical of their consumption. They make sure to use all the scraps in future designs and ensure zero-wastage. They regularly talk about the need to understand end-to end-ethical consumption and creating minima strain on the environment on their Instagram profile. For the Shuwa collection, too, they used fabric varieties such as orange peel fabric, banana fabric, recycled cotton, handwoven cotton in shades of light yellow, pink, aubergine, dual-tone blue among others.

“We focus a lot on pattern making. We believe it’s an integral part of the garment making process. Our designs are minimal yet detailed majorly inspired by shapes and forms.
We use zero-waste pattern-making techniques and Japanese pattern-making techniques that lead to minimal wastage of fabrics. We make sure we upcycle every small cutting created while making the garment.
We want to promote beautifully constructed conscious clothes through every collection of ours.”

— Bhumika Ahluwalia

Talking about the brand and the bond she shares with her mother with The Hindu, Bhumika says “My mom became a designer at 50. There is no age to live a dream... I studied Fashion Design at Parson, New York. I have the technical knowledge and my mother has always been inclined towards art and fabric. After graduating, I came back to India and we travelled across the country, met weavers, attended art exhibits to understand what is it that inspires us.”

You can shop the collection here.

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