March 16, 2017 Asmita Aggarwal

Need of the hour

Neesha Amrish brings 100 per cent sustainable scarves along with her upcycled jewellery at AIFW

By Asmita Aggarwal

Chennai-based designer Neesha Amrish was greatly affected when she visited a sericulture farm where silk worms were killed to extract the silk. She decided to begin sourcing Ahimsa or peace silk and designed scarves that are now being retailed at the Victoria & Albert Museum, England, souvenir shop in 2008, when being organic wasn’t the norm. Interestingly, the demand is so high that the fully pre-paid order from the UK, unlike the consignment basis in India, goes sometimes, three times in a year.

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Never did Neesha think she would come this far, especially as she is self-taught designer, who studied computer science and also flew with an airline. Though it was her daughter’s birth that changed everything. “Aeshaane, my daughter and also the name of my label (Goddess Durga in Hindu mythology), has brought me a lot of luck. I got my first hand block printer and space, after she came into my life. We have also been approached by the Smithsonian, New York for our scarves, which are made in Jharkhand and hand block printed in Chennai,” she adds.

With each scarf coming with a distinct imperfection, it can’t be replicated, as the entire laborious process, which takes almost 13 steps to execute, as dyeing and printing silk, organically, is tougher than cotton, the price can go up to 30 to 40 euros. “I have always loved colours and painting and it was somewhere there deep down in my subconscious mind, which found a vent in my label. But as I had no help, I made many mistakes, when I started some buyers found the hues too loud or the prints too jarring, so we had to work on that,” she adds.

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All of Neesha’s scarves come with a certificate of authentication, and even the price tags are made out of recycled paper. But this is not all that Neesha does, she also makes upcycled jewellery from the leftover fabric, which she retails from Rs 3,500 upwards. “I feel waste materials have some form of life,” she giggles, adding, “so I combined South Indian temple motifs with my love for Bharatanatyam to create fabric jewellery, which is wearable and light to carry too.”

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