In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, celebrity influencer Marie Kondo propagates the Japanese art of decluttering and organising through a purging process of one’s immediate living spaces. The exponential growth of rapid consumerism has met with several countercurrents of ethical questioning, with minimalism leading this fray. Popular streaming channels such as Netflix have taken the lead in broadcasting commentaries on the dire need of minimalism, sustainability and conscious consumerism in our purchase choices. Similarly, in the sphere of fashion and lifestyle, several clothing brands, such as Uniqlo, Raw Mango, Tisa and Bodice are mirroring the minimalism-inspired trend of ‘less is more’. The upcoming fashion line, Dharai joins this entourage of sustainable brands without necessarily sliding down the extreme tangents of minimalism. Instead, it exhibits the utilitarian coupling of simplicity and organic manufacturing processes to redefine the course of futuristic fashion trends in India.
Established by school time friends Bhavini Kumari of Pokhran and Ansardeep Chahal, Dharai is a fashion label that derives its name from the Gurmukhi word for form. It was conceived out of the duo’s generational desire to slow down into a more mindful way of living. “At Dharai, we believe that life goes around in a circle wherein we should only consume or take away what we require while ensuring to give back the same”, says Bhavini, its co-founder. Through an entirely handmade range of customised garments, Dharai hopes to alter the fashion consciousness of today’s elite, one silhouette at a time.
Its key focus on slow fashion makes urgent implications for today's manufacturing world. From the very outset, each of its garments is conceived out of and nurtured by fair trade choices. A deliberate sourcing process of organic and environmentally friendly material in limited quantities slams the bulk model of production rather compellingly. Its cheaper procurement of raw material notwithstanding, mass production of garments violates the rights and interests of its producers and artisans for the sake of corporate benefit. The unprecedented volumes of waste that occupy our landfills due to its frequent miscalculations are made more evident each day. Instead, Dharai dedicates itself to procuring its raw material in closer accuracy with their workability and subsequently commissions smaller production batches to its line of artisans. Sidestepping the imposition of unreasonable deadlines upon their kaarigars helps Bhavini and Ansaar ensure incentivized and high-quality workmanship.
Ansaar concisely phrases Dharai’s holistically conscious approach-" As conscious makers, we believe in fairly paying our karigars, such that they are able to meet their daily needs and support their families. Producing a limited number also cuts down on a lot of wastage. We believe that one should adopt a conscious lifestyle that doesn’t restrict consciousness to only a certain sector.” Their versatile designs, aesthetics, and production values are further enhanced by their seasonally adherent and skin-friendly line of outfits, which are all biodegradable in nature.
Bhavini is based out of Jodhpur and Ansaar out of Chandigarh, where Dharai’s manufacturing process is carried out. Their initial product line got showcased by New Delhi’s prestigious design platform, Ogaan. Dharai recently launched their very own website for seekers of slow and sustainable fashion to be able to instantly access and order their chosen outfits via e-commerce facilities. Bhavini and Ansaar also entertain bespoke inquiries from those who wish to avail a thoroughly personalised experience of sustainable, handmade and community-centric fashion. “Quality and timeless style are the two principles that drive Dharai’s vision. Understanding the importance of fine quality fabrics and processes, Dharai prides itself on creating clothing that ensures maximum utility and minimum wastage. We value craftsmanship and thus, each outfit is handcrafted with care and monitored closely to perfect the fabric, design, tailoring, and finishing. The aim is to craft utilitarian fashion that can be worn from AM to PM. Deriving inspiration from elements of nature as well as personal experiences, the design of each collection highlights clean silhouettes and simplicity”, they jointly conclude.