Conversations and visual narratives about ethical clothing
Ongoing personal project to encourage conversation and education about ethical and sustainable fashion, and what we can do to improve our thinking and actions in this direction.
Showcasing the balance of imperfections championed by the label through artwork over imagery
Photography, Digital Art, Modelling by Rhea Gupte
IN CONVERSATION WITH PRIYANKA ELLA LORENA LAMA OF P.E.L.L.A
You have been the hardworking magician behind some of the most beautiful clothing I have seen from an Indian designer in recent times. Your garments reflect a pure simplicity coupled with strength in both garment construction and draping. It seems like you have found your calling.
It was not a single moment but a culmination of what I was already doing for a very long time, knowingly or unknowingly leading me in this direction. There was a time in middle school, when I started altering clothes for myself – tucking it in and nipping it off. I got more curious and that’s when I started noticing the seams of a readymade garment and using it created a shrug that I had wanted for a long time. Now when I look back, I realise that it was one of the very first crude patterns I made.
I remember seeing you dress up in self-made garments long before the launch of your label and even back then, they carried that authenticity and aesthetic.
My label P.E.L.L.A, with its avant-garde tailoring in prêt-à-porter portrays fashion in an innovative and unconventional way. It is deeply rooted in wabi-sabi philosophy where designs are simple, unpretentious and fashioned out of natural materials to form organic silhouettes. Deliberate imperfections are incorporated in the design to give a “wrong” solution to an otherwise correct norm. My patterns are often developed from a single block of fabric requiring a minimum of measurement and sewing, using zero waste design principles.
It is heartening to know that like you, an entire wave of younger Indian designers are working towards making their labels eco-friendly and sustainable.
We have been hearing about sustainability, environment friendliness and climate change all around us for a very long time. Now, more than ever it has become all the more important. Also, my mom is a staunch supporter of ‘au naturel’, so hand-made, organic, and ethical & eco-friendly products have always made their way into our lives from early on. I incorporate zero-waste principles in my pattern making itself, so the designs I create produce no waste. It is not about reusing; it is about not creating any future waste. This along with the usage of hand-woven organic textiles inherently makes my label sustainable and eco-friendly. As L. Koren says, “Wabi-sabi means treading lightly on the planet and knowing how to appreciate whatever is encountered, no matter how trifling, whenever it is encountered.”
Although practises like these are required now more than ever, I am certain there must be challenges which make producing and selling a cognitive factor.
The only challenge I face is the huge amount of handling and care required to maintain such textiles. Finer the textile, the more cautious you need to be. This actually limits the market penetration of such fabrics, because of its vulnerability.
I first learnt about Eri silk through it’s usage in your collection and I was heartbroken. It’s sad how we tend to not think of the little guys we share our planet with.
Recently, I showcased a capsule collection at the HUL Green Wardrobe Week with Lakme Fashion Week using indigenous pure Eri/Ahimsa Silk and its yarn waste. Eri silk fibre is nature’s own upcycled product where the cocoon is technically a waste in itself after the silkworm transforms and leaves, earning its name of Peace or Non-violence silk. The Sama Cynthia silkworms feed on castor leaves which is not land intensive like mulberry and has a small water footprint providing farmers in drought prone regions a viable income source. Although people do know about Eri silk being non-violent, few know how minimum nature’s resources are used to produce it which contributes to sustainable growth.
I would love to know one question which often plays in your mind, that you would like to ask the next designer I interview; and have the FUSS community mull over, until the next conversation.
Right now the organic and sustainable fashion is being seen mostly at the top end of the pyramid. How can we make this into a mass revolution so that textiles in India are designed, produced and consumed by Indians?