Bandana Tewari is the Fashion Features Director of Vogue India and columnist for Business of Fashion. In 2006, she was named fashion journalist of the year at the Fashion Awards in Mumbai, where she is now based. She is an expert on India’s rapidly evolving luxury market and is a passionate advocate of indigenous and artisanal craft and textiles. She travelled across rural India for her Project Renaissance, a unique collaboration between Indian artisans and international fashion designers in celebration of Vogue India’s 5th anniversary.
Bandana joins us in the lead up to SOURCE Brand Preview to select her favourite brands showcasing on 2 & 3rd March, 2016.
SOURCE Brand Preview is the largest digital fashion showcase featuring a curated selection of the world’s most exciting sustainable fashion brands. Visit here to find out more, apply to exhibit or register to visit.
Bandana’s Top 5 Brand Picks
1) The Autonomous Collections
The Autonomous Collections is a London-based brand with bold aesthetic yet wearable and considered. Kim Stevenson, the brand’s founder and designer, is from Geelong, Australia and takes inspiration from combining rural and city life in a way that represents the value of handicraft, but also aesthetically appeals to exciting new directions in style and youth culture.
Kim Stevenson says “I look at techniques common in indigenous people throught the world, combine this with a city environment and make those techniques fresh, exciting and new. It is important to me to find the fine line of creativity and wearable at the same time.”
Everything is handmade in the UK using organic and recycled materials and using scraps and off-cuts to make interesting textures, thus minimising waste through design.
Bandana chose The Autonomous Collections because of its very strong, clear, compelling USP – “it makes recycling look so cool!” she says. Bandana likes how the use of scraps tells a story that encourages the viewer to meander through memory lane, “it’s got a touch of vintage and a grandmother’s snuggle quality about it. It really taps into the mood of the moment.”
2) MA RA MI
MA RA MI offers exclusive designs using traditional crafts from different countries and cultures. The brand was created by designer Andra Clitan in her desire to go beyond borders and create a fusion between Romanian traditional art and costumes with different cultures from all over the world.
Andra seeks to preserve cultural clothing and techniques while transforming them into innovative designs – a powerful hallmark of originality, manifested in shape, texture, ornamentation and chromatics.
MA RA MI uses felt production, handwoven fabrics and different types of embroideries from Transylvania, Romania – providing much-needed work for a significant number of house wives living in remote villages. The brand also uses a range of other cultural fabrics and techniques such as handwoven “pina” and “abaca” fabrics made in the Philippines by local communities.
Bandana selected MA RA MI for its dramatic and enticing visuals. She said “I like the touch of edginess, it makes it feel contemporary and youthful — the audience is definitely there.” Bandana also appreciated the multicultural approach, “I love their ethics of preserving and reviving ancient clothing, craft and techniques.”
3) FEM International
FEM International is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2005 and is working to empower girls and women around the globe to develop their potential as individuals, entrepreneurs and community leaders through socially and ecologically responsible entrepreneurship. One way they work with women is to produce clothing and accessories which can be sold globally.
The bags FEM International is promoting at SOURCE Brand Preview this season are made by a group of artisans Wayuu from Colombia. FEM is working with these artisans to access new markets, commercialise their products and to train them on entrepreneurship and business.
Bandana loved these bags for the bright pop of exuberant colour and bohemian vibe, “They remind me of beach holidays and carefree days.” Bandana was also very inspired by FEM’s social mission and thinks that “consumers are becoming very craft-conscious and this brand knows what it’s doing.” Bandana would have loved to see their bags presented visually in a more narrative context or lifestyle shoot.
4) Bibi Hanum
Bibi Hanum specialises in traditional and contemporary clothing, accessories and home goods using handwoven ikat fabrics.
Ikat weaving is an intricate process that has approximately 37 steps – from producing silk to the tying of the patterns and multiple dye baths, to hand weaving beautiful meters of ikat on the loom. Their exclusive ikats are made by master artisans in the Fergana Valley, whose families have produced these beautiful fabrics for generations.
Bibi Hanum’s mission is to support women and children while preserving cultural heritage. Most of the weavers of Uzbek ikat fabrics are women, and Bibi Hanum collaborates with a local NGO that rescues women from trafficking, supporting them with training to produce clothing for the brand.
Bandana chose Bibi Hanum for its “unabashedly bright and bold” fabrics and because their ikats feel fresh, modern and on-trend.
ABURY brings together exciting designers with traditional artisans from remote and inspiring cultures. The designer is embedded in a craft culture for roughly two months to learn and share ideas from one another and to create a collection together, bringing the best of heritage knowledge and wisdom to high design.
The new collection is from Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri, handmade in Ecuador. It is called “A Non-Existent Tribe” – as Pam is from Zimbabwe but spent time learning the traditions and sharing her own knowledge with artisans in the Andes of Ecuador. The models used in the lookbook are from Kazakstan and Croatia, while the brand is based in Berlin. Together they create a new form of style tribe!
ABURY shares its profits with the ABURY Foundation and through the Foundation gives back the production time in education time to the respective communities. So far ABURY has created a school in Morocco where 40 women and 32 children go to school every day.
ABURY’s customer is a self-conscious and confident, stylish city woman. She loves to travel and explore cultures. She thinks about her social and environmental responsibility and is well educated on a high income.
Bandana chose ABURY because she “loves the earthiness of the bags.” She thought that the collaboration between young designers and artisan communities is what makes the brand truly dynamic.