October 13, 2018 Asmita Aggarwal

Little Women

Ranchi girls Priyal and Shreya pay homage to austerity combining fashion with emotions, poems and everything hand done.

By Asmita Aggarwal

Fashion now has blurred the boundaries domestically and it is not the metros which are now giving us designers, but small towners, who have entered this space and are offering a unique ideology. Sigmund Freud confirmed we are a sum total of our childhood experiences, Priyal and Shreya Mewara, are living examples of how connected they are with their hometown Ranchi, which gave them the stimulus to launch Ode to Odd. “We were born when Ranchi was part of Bihar and because we studied in Delhi, now we know what all we missed and also learnt being raised in a backward area,” say Priyal.

With no one in the family who was even remotely connected with fashion, the sisters, Priyal who went to SRCC and studied commerce, while the elder one Shreya completed fashion design from Pearl Academy, grew up admiring their mom, an impeccable dresser. “She was so particular about her clothes that if we stepped out even in the neighbourhood not looking our best, she would correct us,” smiles Priyal. Their father, who runs a spice business and iron ore mining says, travelling to do sawan puja all over Rajasthan (Jodhpur, Jaipur and Jaisalmer), from where they originally belong, opened their eyes to the craft rich state. “Today hand work is almost rare and machines have infiltrated every sphere. We wished to go back to a simple life, where everything was slow, one-of-a-kind and evergreen,” she adds explaining the name Ode to Odd.

They work with artisans from Bhuj, Musheerabad, Phulia and Bhuttico (Himachal) among others with all fabrics used hand woven. So much so that a single jacket they produce takes ten days to make and sometimes has over 10,000 stitches. They replace zippers with buttons and believe in the innate beauty of hand hems and celebrate the prowess of Muslim artisans, who are masters at delicate motif making —aari and zardosi though the duo mostly works with the humble cross stitch and beadwork. “We believe in upcycling and recycling so our tags are made of scraps and them embroidered, which is our special touch,” she says.

The SS’19 line is a capsule collection which is not seasonal and inspired by instagram poet Nayyirah Waheed, author of Salt and Nejma. The words are peppered with feminism, nostalgia, love and longing. “Language of flowers”, her poem serves as the base for the sisters, just like the white and beige of their line. The emotions are added through embroidery in breezier fabrics like Eri silks, mashru, mul-mul, khadi and cotton silk.

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Their silhouettes vacillate between structured and relaxed so if there are anagarkhas, they have also added toned down power suits, blazers-trousers, with hints of androgyny. “As we are based in Ranchi and work together, my parents who were earlier sceptical now seem happy, even when they see the siblings disagreeing at least once a week,” she explains.   Endearingly, their aesthetics are similar, but approaches are different and this conflict gives rise to interesting ideas. “Shreya is a problem solver, while I get stressed; I can handle the business aspect and know how to build on a story. In a way we balance each other. The next step is to make our brand a lifestyle one, not just fashion,” she concludes.

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