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Saree (also spelled as ‘sari’) is a traditional draped garment that is primarily worn by women of the Indian subcontinent. This drape pattern can be traced to the Indus valley civilization, which is around 2800-1800 BC in northwest India.
This was the general household garment that was worn by women not only from India but also women of Srilanka, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, etc.
Saree or Sari is seen as a very traditional and at times religious and cultural garment that is adorned all the time and specifically special sarees which are an heirloom and are passed from generation to generation, are reserved for auspicious occasions like marriages, family gatherings, and other rituals which are held sacred in this land.
Sarees have and are continuing to dominate the market of women’s wear sector in India. Even though the trends and priorities are changing significantly every year, the saree’s popularity is never deterred. It is what we call the “timeless piece of fashion” which might have gone through modernization according to the present trend, but it can never go out of style. There are so many patterns, fabrics, textures, and so much more to look at. Every state has its own signature saree style.
India as a nation is known for its cultural diversity in various things. Fashion is one of them. In fact, a very important factor that defines the depth and keenness of attention that people had, is to come up with different types of looms, weaving methods, colors, patterns, etc.
The only thing that can be done is to preserve them. Educate the future generations about the level of work that has been done in fashion, particularly saree, since we are looking at this particular trademark style.
Influencers and designers are very much in tune with the saree culture even now. If we attend any college events, we still find so many girls and women planning their saree and wearing it on many occasions. And of course, for the middle-aged generation and older population, the saree is still the go-to garment for household purposes and other exquisite occasions.
Sarees are now paired with trousers, different drape styles have evolved, modern blouses for the saree, and they can even be layered with jackets!
In this article, we are going to cover 8 contemporary fashion brands that emphasize the saree not just as a garment, but as a tradition and culture of this land.
Katan weaves by Ruchika Modi
Katan weaves by Ruchika Modi is a brand that is known for its hand-woven custom-made sarees. They are woven on looms and are delicately handled by the weavers of Benaras. She herself is from Benaras and was inspired by the textile of saree from a very early age. In Hindi, Katan means Silk.
The Unique Selling Point of this brand is the traditional weaving methods are contemporized, thereby bringing in the perfect blend to the audience.
Katan weaves stand out in the market when we look at the design aspect, as Ruchika is constantly working to come up with innovative patterns and weaving, and also unique fabric blends.
House of Masaba
House of Masaba is an eponymous fashion label started by the Indo-Caribbean designer Masaba Gupta. The brand is known for its quirky designs and they are widely recognized for its creative cultural blend of Indian and Caribbean, thereby coming up with unique and unconventional designs and motifs.
This is a bridge brand between Haute Couture and Pret Couture. House of Masaba has categorized its saree collection into different parameters like a Destination wedding, sangeet, festive wear, and also terms of diverse and contemporary colors and patterns.
Celebrities are seen sporting Masaba garments which takes the brand to a much wider audience scale.
This brand has a global presence and appeal. A Netflix series named, “Masaba Masaba” has been made to portray her personal life and fashion odyssey. She has also collaborated with the HBO series and launched her own Masaba * Games Of Thrones capsule collection which is inspired by the theme and character of the series.
The brand philosophy of Raw Mango is drawing inspiration from various cultures of India and using fashion as a voice to give perspective through its designs. Raw Mango’s design core is the craftsmanship and heritage skills that are still alive for thousands of years. Textile and culture are the brand's central themes; they are into garments such as sarees, dresses, etc to portray the same.
Raw mango makes hand-woven sarees. We can also identify many organzas and silk sarees with surface ornamentations such as Gota, zari, and motifs such as ‘peacock’ and ‘butas’. The sarees are also made to order. The production time is around 5 to 6 weeks and they will ship to the customers. The prices are in the higher range and the method of production also suggests that they want to maintain their product and brand exclusivity.
Raw Mango innovates upon the already available and established cultural knowledge and brings in a new design aesthetic that is unique.
The word ‘Tan’ means body. ‘Eira’ is the Sanskrit word for Goddess Saraswathi, who is known for music, arts, crafts, and knowledge. Taneira is rooted in its authentic handicrafts, and natural fibres, and brings exclusive and progressive design to Indian women.
The brand has covered the regional specialties of different states and their unique styles like Banarasi, Bengali, Kanjeevaram, Maheshwari, Odisha, Khadi, contemporary sarees, and much more. This shows how the brand wants to go deep into the heritage of sarees and make their brand an overall complete brand that has all designs under one roof.
The garments are hand-picked from over 65 weaving clusters across India to bring the best quality product to its customers. Taneira is a brand that is committed to maintaining this exclusivity, using natural and authentic products, and maintaining its responsibility and purpose.
Sundarii handmade is a sustainable and ethical brand that rightly recognized the attenuation of Indian heritage handicrafts. This was the main motto when they first started this brand in December 2019. They are constantly supporting artisans and weavers to preserve this knowledge and make sure this reaches the modern era and is contemporized in the right proportion.
Sundarii handmade is making sure it's just not another fashion brand that wants to manufacture and sell garments. They are creating enough awareness regarding the fulfillment of what they should get when buying something that is beneficial to them and also to the ecosystem at large. The brand has contemporized saree’s in a big way. Some handicrafts such as Ajrakh, Bandhani, Ikat, Dabu, Shibori, Maheshwari, and many more. There are even hand-painted sarees available.
The fabrics are hand-woven and unique fabrics such as Eri silk, Matka silk, Modal, Mashru, etc. Sundarii Handmade wants customers to start purchasing consciously and make this earth a better place to live in.
Marghazi designs is a very unique brand that embraces the feminine aspect of this existence. They are not talking about males and females and their different biological attributes. Rather they speak about a feminine energy that uplifts themselves and others around them.
They have perfected the art of modernising sarees and making them even more palatable to the younger generation. The collections are very intriguing, and the latest collection for their saree is called ‘combined cotton’. It is full of Mangalgiri / Mul cotton premium sarees. The USP of the brand is very evident. Different colour combinations, hand-picked raw materials, innovative blouse designs, etc.
Marghazi designs is a brand that celebrates womanhood. They talk about freedom and say, womanhood cannot be defined by body parts, society, and other things. It can only be defined by the individual.
Sitaara is an online sustainable brand that dwells in the category of subtle and elegant.
They work with weavers all around India and the brand has completely shifted to a sustainable slow fashion approach.
They source fabrics from West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka, and try to grab the essence of each state’s own signature fashion statement. Sitaara uses fabrics for saree such as Mangalgiri, organic Kala cotton, Khadi, etc. The fabrics are all lightweight and extremely easy to drape and style in different ways.
The brand is also set to venture into interesting territory. As they have become completely sustainable, they are going to explore plant-based fibres such as bamboo, banana, and aloe vera to produce sarees. This is going to be very exciting to follow and look forward to.
Anavila is a conscious contemporary brand aiming to make changes. Changes in the right direction. Their motto is,
“Mindful creation leads to mindful consumption”
Their designs have been constantly evolving and the brand has brought a new meaning to saree overall making it so modern and elegant at the same time.
Anavila aims to create a desire to wear a sari. That’s why we can see the creativity behind every silhouette. They work with artisans and support them immensely. These artisans are the soul of the brand. The brand uses fabrics such as Khadi, Jamdani, woollen, and Linen and works such as ombre, zari, organza, etc.
The brand is more inspired than ever before, making the customer visit time and again. Nothing short of an amazing contemporary fashion brand that is paving its own way.
Saree is much more than just a garment. It is a way of life. It has been and it will be. This is a unique piece that doesn't come under the radar of trends and fads, rejections and pushbacks. No, it is evergreen. Almost every women’s wear brand in the market, old or new age, has saree in their product range. This is because they are well aware of the market size that saree occupies in clothing.
But, this is much more than just market, popularity, and economy. Many lives, many families have made their living by making saree with their own hands. It has been their livelihood. Here, even in this article, almost all brands that we covered spoke about their extended support for artisans. Such is their impact. Every state had its unique approach. Unique and sophisticated designs. These people have given their lives to making this happen at a larger volume and showcasing their artisanal skill that has been evident for ages.
It is very inspiring to see saree contemporize and fit into different social sectors. Kudos to the innovative designers who are still trying to imbibe ancient knowledge and not forget the past. It’s only because of a fixed and stable past, that we can have a better future!
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