October 12, 2017 Asmita Aggarwal

No Borders

Sreya Samanta likes her saris to be light, hand-spun and in pure khadi

By Asmita Aggarwal

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After NIFT (Kolkata) studying textile design, Sreya Samanta, went looking for jobs, but designers were hesitant to hire a just-graduated fresher. She couldn’t really understand why…was it insecurity or just not wanting to give an opportunity?

So, she launched her own label in 2017. Now if you ask her what she did for two years, after graduating she will tell you she went to the outskirts of Kolkata, Shantipur and Santinketan to explore textiles, as well as fairs where artisans came with woven yarns, but it was her Bengali aesthetic that overtook every other exposure. Growing up in Kolkata, she saw her mother wear pure cotton saris and doing Kantha, which shaped her ideology, simple, but impactful!

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That’s why AIFW SS’18 her collection is inspired by poppy flowers that many believe only come in hues of red. “They look splendid in blues and purples, which is my colour story, this season for the saris,” she adds. What adds to their magic is that they are light-weight, fun, executed in hand spun khadi, with kantha being one of the techniques along with French knots, Parsi embroidery and chain stitch.

Interestingly, the saris are worn with kurtas, palazzos and dresses along with tops.

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“When Sanjay Garg started Raw Mango, he gave all of us direction and ignited the desire to wear a sari. I think, he changed the way modern women view a sari, including me. So, I kept everything in my line raw, even though weavers suggested that it is easier to weave cotton than khadi (150 counts with a cotton warp) I didn’t budge,” she laughs.

Sreya doesn’t add any borders on the saris, so the eight looks that she showcased, came in frothy hues of olives and aubergines. “NIFT taught me how to handle pressure and work with deadlines, so I know how to ‘deal with’ weavers. Also as a young label, because we outsource our work, the costing increases, making it tough for us to compete with established brands. For some years, I have decided to forgo profits, to keep afloat,” she adds.

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If not a designer, Sreya would have become a vet, or opened a shelter as she loves animals. “I like a little drama, in my clothes that you will find in the minimal embroideries, also I have been an admirer of Pero (Aneeth Arora), Payal Khandwala and Eka (Rina Singh) and I kind of don’t want to be part of a herd, I’d like to take the road less travelled,” she concludes.

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