Most of us can concede to spending hours on making a decision on what to wear, but why we choose to wear it is something that’s commonly lost. The thought crossed Saachi Bahl’s mind as she began to explore conversations on culture and identity. The founder of Saahra, a multi-designer platform for sustainable fashion, decided to make this the focal point of her new book. Published by Juggernaut India, My Classic Closet is her exploration of the thought how fashion is an integral facet constructing identity. “This book started as a process to discover why people wear what they wear and how far fashion has been relevant in shaping identities and stereotypes. By accumulating collective experiences and views from people belonging to diverse walks of life, the book detaches from the superficial to travel on a journey seeking answers at junctions plagued by complexities of modern-day issues. It highlights and challenges notions around gender, beauty, religion and race by addressing popular stereotypes,” she tells Vogue.
Bahl approached it as an anthology, bringing together thought leaders from diverse walks of life. “It was a unique opportunity to be able to seek answers from the experts about things we often notice, but perhaps never ask. It was exciting to ask Sri Sri Ravi Shankar why spiritual leaders adorn plain robes. Anita Dongre breaks down why it is culturally more acceptable for women to wear pants than men to wear skirts or lehengas. Jewellery designer Farah Khan Ali shared why historically wedding bands are worn to signify lifelong commitment.” The list goes on to include first-hand accounts from other professionals, including director Shashank Khaitan on driving social relevance through filmmaking. Meanwhile Chef Kelvin Chueng explains that the number of folds in a torque hat represents the number of ways a chef can cook an egg. For the many questions the book raises, it hopes to find answers that people commonly grapple with while choosing their attire, which are often influenced by social, religious and cultural norms.
Bahl’s journey in fashion has come far from starting as a fashion designer, turning to entrepreneurship, to creating an ecosystem that’s driven by purpose, value and positive impact. Four years ago, she launched the retail store Saahra with a vision to create India’s first platform for homegrown labels that meet global standards of sustainability, fair-trade and cruelty-free, such as Akaaro, Ekà and Doodlage. As the landscape of fashion shifts online, Saahara's e-commerce platform launches this month with a first-of-its-kind section dedicated to transparency in India. The aim is to get labels to disclose as much information as possible about the craft, materials, supply chain or technology and other such details regarding the making of the product. The website will also provide information on whether the product or supply chain is certified by an agency or is self-certified by the company.
“In the last few years, greater awareness has beckoned and it has propelled a radical shift in perceptions. Today, in India, more designers are reinterpreting traditional Indian crafts and textiles to reimagine them in a contemporary design language to appeal to a larger segment of consumers. In turn, this is enabling the sustenance of local crafts and craft communities,” she believes.
Bahl is one of the hopeful voices using their platform to diversify opinions and share experiences. “You don’t have to follow fashion to read this book. I intended it to be food-for-thought, delivered in a light-hearted way,” she insists.Also read:
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