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Creating a fashion brand that is ethical is not always knitted to a deep conscious practice of sustainability. But certainly, Mrittika is an exception; in every step of the blockchain, the brand manufactures following sustainable handmade processes, including a zero waste collection with the remnants. All that you will find here are authentic Indian fashion accessories handcrafted by artisans.
The founders, Vishakha Ruhela and Nandini Misra, have a deep love and passion for crafts; when they decided to start the brand, they really wanted to make a difference in the Indian handcrafted textile sector by introducing us to the world of authentic Indian fashion accessories.
In a mechanised world full of synthetic fashion, Mrittika seeks to inspire a profound connection to the Mother Earth. The name is a Sanskrit word that means “born from the earth”, and sensitive as this is, the brand brings us back to our roots with the handmade accessories.
Mrittika works very closely with the country’s textile communities to make bags and scarves using traditional Indian textiles. Currently, the bags are made out of polyurethane based leather, but the founders are currently exploring more sustainable leather alternatives such as cork leather and felt, along with newer natural alternatives.
The collections are addressed to a purpose, where the brand warmly invites women and men to use the accessories, and smash down any boundaries with regards to conventional aesthetics.
They aim to work with and explore as many Indian crafts as possible and develop two main collections and two upcycled collections with one craft over a period of one year. They’re done with their first four collections with Ajrakh and are now developing a new collection with another traditional Indian textile technique.
Authentic Indian fashion accessories with the traditional Ajrakh technique
The collections of the brand feature the authentic Ajrakh, a traditional Indian hand block printing technique from the Bhuj district in Gujarat, in India. What makes it different is that instead of printing directly on the fabrics, the process uses a method called Mordanting.
This process begins with the designing and carving of the wooden blocks, which will be used to colour the garments. In their latest collection, Mrittika used fabrics such as Gajji silk, which requires additional printing steps; each of the pieces undergoes stages of resist printing and dyeing, using a combination of mordant and natural dyes.
“At exhibitions, we often meet people who refuse to believe we’re working with authentic Ajrakh because it looks so different; but we do this while using the traditional knowledge and blocks of the craft community, simply by engineering the placement and colours.” Nandini Misra
Although being a complicated process, Mrittika has a very clear mission which is simply to bring beautiful authentic Indian fashion accessories to people, that are also sustainable and glamourise the ancestral know-how of the Indian artisans.
Zero-waste production for an authentic Indian fashion accessories collection
There are many ways to be a more sustainable fashion brand, and some of these are trying to keep the waste to a minimum, upcycling textile and using a plastic-free packaging.
Between their two main collections, the brand launched a product line made out of the leftover materials from the first collection and is now ready to launch one from the remnants of the second collection as well.
During the fabrication of Mrittika’s bags, they collect all the remnants and extra trims and accessories, as well as the rejected pieces. Once the production of the main collection is over and all the products have been checked for quality, they go through the scraps and separate the pieces that are usable for new products. Then, they do the designs based on what is available to manufacture what they call ‘Prithu’ collections.
The zero waste collections are special since they don’t require fresh printing and make use of pieces that would otherwise go to waste. Also important, they help to conserve resources on both the manufacturing as well as disposal ends.
“We save every tiny scrap of fabric that we can get our hands on. The very small pieces are also put aside and since we’re striving to be a zero waste entity, we’re working on developing something useful with those too.” Nandini Misra
Indian handcraft and textile communities involved
The founders work with traditional artisans and seek out local vendors, regardless of religion, community or gender.
When it comes to handcrafting the Ajrakh, males are generally responsible for the printing stage; all the fabrics are hand-printed and hand-dyed. Once the pieces are ready, females take care of the finishing of the scarves, which is also done by hand and adorned with handmade tassels. Even the labels are attached by hand! This is definitely a proof that the brand brings us the most authentic Indian fashion accessories.
So far, the manufacturing is outsourced to a small local unit with 3 permanent employees, and the packaging is made by the local tailor across the street from where the founders stay.
“Our manufacturing is done at a tiny unit with 3 permanent employees and our packaging is made by the local tailor across the street from where we stay. We believe that by working with small, local businesses, we not only provide them with an impetus but also allow ourselves to be more intimately involved with our product.” Nandini Misra
Mrittika supports fair trade employment with the aim is to be completely transparent and profoundly socially conscious, so to make a difference in the Indian handcrafted textile sector. As one of the founders Nandini Misra says, “on average about the 25% of our product price is given to those who make it. To maintain a healthy percentage, we pay the artisans before evening beginning our costing, so that the intended price has no effect whatsoever on what we are paying them. Our price range, therefore, is reflective of what we pay our artisans.”
However, this is just the beginning. In the future Mrittika aims to be one of the prominent voices advocating sustainable and conscious fashion, having successfully transitioned to better leather alternatives ourselves.
“We want to use and showcase as many traditional Indian textiles as possible, work with numerous traditional artisans across India, be awestruck by their stories and knowledge, and share them with our audience.” Nandini Misra
If you love the brand, you can find the entire range of products on their website. Some other selected products can also be purchased from their shops available on Etsy.com where you can get your accessories shipped internationally.
Is there any other similar brand you know or are curious about? Comment below, and we will make it happen!