October 11, 2018 Asmita Aggarwal

Mapping the Silk Route

Roopa Pemmaraju works with Phulia artisans and courts slow fashion by creating hand spun luxurious silks and jacquards that will withstand the test of time this SS’19

By Asmita Aggarwal

How and when did you discover that designing was your calling? How do you keep in touch with your Indian roots? 

Roopa started in 2011, our atelier is based in Bangalore, every collection is made in India, before they are launched in Australia, US or in Paris.

Tell is about the project that you are doing and showing at FDCI?

Roopa SS’19 collection pays homage to the ancient network of trade routes that once connected the East and West; The Silk Road. Drawing inspiration from historical Afghan, Indian and Chinese textiles, the collection reflects nomadic origins, cultural exchanges and ultimately uses silk as a representation of art  through Phulia skilled artisans. We found the finest silks and jacquard from Phulia and it was best suited to add in our spring-summer ‘19 collection for connect East and West.


How important is sustainability as a theme for you and how do you incorporate it in your repository in terms of fabrics and concepts? 

Ensuring the skills and craftsmanship of time-honored traditions such as beading, embroidery, weaving, dyeing and printing continue to grow, flourish and evolve, an atelier was established in Bangalore, India, were skilled artisans could come and collaborate on each collection., plus hundreds of artisan partners in every state of India who specialise in different skills and crafts.

What would you say is your signature and how do you believe modern women have evolved today? 

Roopa is a name synonymous with ethical, individual, luxury fashion. The brand’s vision is to respect artisans and artists, giving back while creating something entirely new, beautiful and yet, unexpected. Consciously slow-fashion, each piece is designed in collaboration with skilled craftspeople and centers on beautiful silhouettes, timeless embellishments and a bold attitude to colour and print. 

A desire to infuse art and the natural environment into the collection has become a strong narrative for the brand, as is heritage and community. Each Roopa piece is designed as a future heirloom, to be thoughtfully handed down, from one generation to the next, reinterpreted over and over again.

Tell us about meeting weavers of Phulia? What fabric innovations have you done?  

We love exploring new clusters and artisans all over India, We wanted to introduce something unique to International market with the most softest and finest jacquard silk this season was best suited to introduce The brand’s vision is to respect artisans and artists, giving back while creating something entirely new, beautiful and yet, unexpected. Consciously slow-fashion, each piece is designed in collaboration with skilled craftspeople from Phulia.

There are so many beautiful clusters across India and in its own unique weaving style. We have visited Phuila and Samudragarh, through the partnership with Artisans of Fashion founded by Sydney-based Creative, Caroline Poiner. We collaborate and network more artisanal communities so bring more high quality, hand-crafted product with appeal for the international market.

The young new woman is financially independent and wants to dress individualistically. What does your label offer her? 

The younger  generations are indeed getting more conscious of the environmental and social impact of decisions and are more likely to buy from a brand that  resonates their love and own personal values. High-end brands that want to retain their status in the luxury market need to evolve and make new practices to keep up with this growing trend towards ethical and sustainable luxury fashion and which is also slow fashion and can be passed onto next generations. 

You have also worked with aboriginal artists… what was your learning from that collaboration? 

It has been very unique experience and very special collaboration including Australian indigenous art and Indian textiles was our first international collection showing at Australian Fashion Week, the art has stories and history of the land which we communicated through our collection. 

What would you like to do in the future that you haven’t done in the past with fashion? And how do you stay away from digitisation revolution that is sweeping fashion? 

We work predominantly with silk, chosen for its longevity, luxuriousness and relatively low environmental impact. Are artisans originate from rural areas.  We not only want to provide them with a peaceful ‘yogic’ working environment,  and pay above average wages and are taught skills in financial independence, enabling them to improve their livelihood and support their families.

We would like to thank the Fashion Design Council Of India, Artisans of Fashion , Australian High Commissions inviting us to show our collection in India.




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