bOmbayMODE + Metaphor Racha
I have developed a strong infatuation towards natural fabrics like cotton, types of silks, linens etc and slowly have been transforming my wardrobe with pieces that are designed from them. They are high on comfort, really eye-catching and the earthiness and rustic appeal is what makes them perfect.
I am always on a look out for brands and labels that sell designs that are one-of-a-kind, and predominantly crafted from natural fibres and once such brand that really stood out in recent times for me was 'Metaphor Racha'. I spotted a quirky saree on one of my all-time favourite bloggers Jayashree (she owns an enviable saree collection follow here) and started following the brand she had tagged. The pleasing earthy tones, the slight irregularities as a result of being handcrafted, the beautiful block-prints is what instantly catapulted my attention. Moreover intricate weaves celebrating the age-old techniques of Indian artisans always have a special place in my heart, and this brand imbibes all the goodness of this rich history. This is exactly why I knew I had to feature this label on 'Mode Talk'.
Ravi Kiran is the man behind this brand and his modesty and dedication is what stands out when you speak to him. One phone call later I was convinced about this collaboration. (he didn't even want to share his pic, that is exactly how shy he is and wants the label to do all the talking)
Here is an informative account about the brand and otherwise. Don't miss the tips and tricks from the expert himself.
What MetaphorRacha stands for?
'Metaphor' - analogy / comparison / symbol and 'Racha' - in our language Kannada means ' to create' and hence, Metaphor Racha stands for a 'symbol to create'.
In a day and age where most of us are looking at green and alternate energy (solar and wind) , Khadi is one textile which requires negligible or zero amount of energy to produce. Both the weaving technique and the texture is very unique and predominantly produced in Indian sub-continent.
It's a rural produce and a heritage craft, which needs to be preserved.
Khadi is known in Indian history as the product that brought a revolution, how do you think it influences the modern Indians?
Most of us have studied from our history books and have understood the importance of Khadi as a textile in our freedom struggle, but I think Khadi is more relevant NOW.
1) As Khadi production requires no energy, I call it as a textile of the future .
2) 'Khadiness' is a way of life and textile is a by product of that ideology. It teaches us to be more self-reliant, approaches sustainable production, improves local economy, employs rural women and helps in anti-migration.
5 things about Khadi you would want us to know?
1) Khadi fabric is mostly woven from cotton grown locally (though we have poly-Khadi and Khadi silk) Cotton which most of us have seen in the fields are basically flowers and hence, the Khadi what all of us wear is actually a flower!!
2) Our national flag is always made from Khadi fabric .
3) Khadi (hand-spun and handwoven) keeps you warm in winter and cool in summer .
4) 70% of the work force in Khadi sector are women who work under Khadi co-operative societies, making India amongst very few countries practicing co-operative society movement successfully.
5) Khadi is the only fabric in the entire world, which was started with no monetary gain in mind. (Khadi fabric was woven to be self-sufficient and was not meant for sale)
How did the idea came to you and what are your background?
How did the idea came to you and what are your background?
I have studied electronics engineering and do not have any background in textile or fashion. Though I had worked in export garment factories as a merchandiser, my inclination was always all things handmade.10 years back (when Khadi was not so fashionable) I chanced upon meeting few local Khadi weavers and decided to partner with them. I travelled across Karnataka visiting most of the Khadi institutes and talking to the workers there to find a business potential for both me and the weavers. That's how Metaphor Racha was born.
From where do you source authentic Khadi and how do you conceive your designs?
At Metaphor Racha we use Khadi produced only locally (in the state of Karnataka). Apart from working with few Khadi weavers, I have partnered with a Khadi co-operative society in a small village called Shirahatti in Northern part of our state, where we have 6 weavers and around 30 spinners; all women (making it a more committed and sustained way to approach the work)
I have noticed you collection is handful and curated, any particular reason?
From the beginning I was very clear that I did not want Metaphor Racha as a fashion brand making only clothes. Every Khadi weaver and every Khadi society has their own unique weaving technique and texture, and all of them needed encouragement.
The curated look is a celebration of various workers. As I do not have any design discipline, I always discuss the design with my dyers, weavers, tailors or block-printers, making them more involved in the produce.
How often do you launch your collections?
Though we do not approach our work as season specific, for all practical reasons you will be able to see something new every 45 days on our website www.metaphorracha.com.
How can one identify authentic Khadi from the dupes and how to maintain Khadi?
1) Buy your Khadi only from a registered Khadi bhandaars .
2) If you are buying from a brand or a designer, ask them about the product history .
3) The uneven weave, texture, coarseness in some cases and fluidity are the hallmark of hand-spun and handwoven Khadi fabric.
Khadi cotton can be washed at home. Use mild detergent, hand wash and dry it under shade. In case of print and over-dyed fabric, wash the fabric separately with a hand full of rock salt in the water, unless advised otherwise by the specific brand.
Artisans in India are rapidly giving-up their traditional vocations for more lucrative ones, how is Metaphor Racha empowering them to make it more sustaining?
Contrary to the popular belief that weaving is a sunset industry, India has still more number of weavers and artisans put together than compared to the rest of the world. No artisan wants to migrate to any other industry if he/she is paid fairly. Lot of entrepreneurs have started working on a grass root level and I encourage more people to get involved.
At Metaphor Racha, apart from looking at transparency, sustained work, local economy, fair wages and incentives the most important part of our work is to instill pride in the hard work which our craftsmen do. All our partners are involved in everyday work, be it designing a fabric or garment and hence, understand the urban need.
What measures are you taking to create awareness amongst your patrons towards Khadi, natural fibres, traditional art-forms, artisans etc.
Though Metaphor Racha is an e-commerce sales platform, we participate in exhibits and trade shows and the only reason being to let people understand, touch, feel and try our produce. We never let a chance to go by to give information about the people who work with our label and the importance of supporting Khadi.
Tell us about your upcoming collection
We have been preparing for a couple of exhibits in the next 2 months and we are upbeat about our collection involving re-cycled Khadi fabric.
Which collection is your favourite and why?
My upcoming collection. Isn't it how it should be !!
What you wish to say to our readers? (answers from both of you)
ASK QUESTIONS. We are living in an age of jargons and hashtags. It's not only important to show who made your clothes (of course it's our tailors) but, where did the cotton come from? name of the cotton? who spun the yarn? who dyed the thread? is it natural or azo-free dye? who weaves the fabric? what is the condition in production area? In what way is it fair wage? which city/village/area is the fabric woven? what is the carbon foot print ? is organic cotton the only organic about your work?
Be informed --buy less --invest wisely --wear often.
Where do you see your label 5 years from now?
Work with more craftsmen, empower them to be entrepreneurs in a way that in 5 years (I want to be more of a consultant) where I want them to pay me instead of me paying them.
Metaphor Racha prides itself in reviving the traditional fabric of Khadi by unifying it with modern silhouettes, patterns and colors. The designs are like a breath of fresh air and make for a welcome change from the usual patterns we see otherwise.
bOmbayMODE admires this effort and wishes Metaphor Racha reaches its goal of educating buyers and making the weavers self-sufficient.