Obeisance to Odisha: Slow fashion label Boito’s first collection, Boito Beginnings, envisages pieces that celebrate the luxury of time

The new fashion label Boito, based out of Odisha, derives its name from the ritual of Boito Bandana (Worship of the Boats)
Richa Maheshwari's Boito launches first collection 'Obeisance to Odisha: Slow fashion label Boito’s first collection, Boito Beginnings, envisages pieces that celebrate the luxury of time'
Richa Maheshwari's Boito launches first collection 'Obeisance to Odisha: Slow fashion label Boito’s first collection, Boito Beginnings, envisages pieces that celebrate the luxury of time'

In ancient times, a mariner-merchant community of Odisha, known as Sadhabas, would sail to the distant lands of Southeast Asia for trade and cultural exchange. These boats would carry costly cargo — including hand-woven textiles — which would be the primary source of income for the community. To ensure their safe return from this journey, the wives of these travelling sailors would worship the boats and the festival would be called Boito Bandana (Worship of the Boats). Today, the celebration includes the floating of miniature boats as a symbolic gesture. The new fashion label Boito, based out of Odisha, derives its name from this very ritual.

“In June 2022, I had the opportunity to travel to the remotest parts of my home state — Odisha. There, I met beautiful people who showered me with a warmth I grew determined to absorb more of. Everything about their slow pace of life was enchanting,” founder Richa Maheshwari begins to tell us about her inspiration for the label.

<strong>Ensembles from the edit</strong>
Ensembles from the edit

Through her travels, Richa started to witness first-hand how textile-making is a central focus in indigenous family life. But despite the magic in their textiles, the weavers struggle to make ends meet — leading to a dwindling interest in the next generation of artisans. “In an attempt to strengthen ties with my own people and keep their rich textile traditions alive, I decided to take the plunge and dabble in this space,” says Richa, who was working in corporate before stepping foot into the fashion industry. What emerged was a representative and culturally appreciative clothing collection suitable for a global audience. Boito was thus set afloat in 2022 (the company being registered a year later) as a collaborative platform to empower artisans without disrupting their unhurried way of life.

And this inspiration has found its way into the label’s first collection — Boito Beginnings. Where it finds its evidence the most is the motifs used. “Across Odisha’s weaving traditions, the motifs are inspired by nature and mythology — peppering the textiles with myriad stories. These stories were a source of inspiration for us, particularly as the motifs that represent them fit in so easily with modern silhouettes,” shares Anshu Arora, creative consultant, Boito and designer, Boito Beginnings. She further notes, “For instance, the khandua weave turtle features prominently in two of our styles — a floaty kimono and a more structured blazer. The turtle is very much part of bandha vocabulary and the khandua community were happy to allow us to play around with scale and colour. This creature really caught our fancy as it represents slow and steady progress — crossing oceans but always finding its way home — mirroring Boito’s journey and the timelessness of Odisha’s textiles.”

<strong>Pieces from the collection</strong>
Pieces from the collection

Similarly, the Kotpad Jacket was created from the authentic aal-dyed shawls with a generous smattering of their typically fauna-inspired extra weft motifs, which sometimes also include umbrellas and tiny axes. The Dongria Overlay is made from the kapdagandha shawl embroidered by the Dongria Kondh tribe. The triangle motifs in shades of yellow, red and green represent the Niyamgiri Hills that surround them and celebrate their principal deity — Niyam Raja.

Apart from these, the collection focuses heavily on statement silhouettes such as trench coats, jackets, jumpsuits and dresses, as well as tailored shirts, skirts and trousers. Every now and then, you will discover a little detail such as a dhokra pendant or bead. The silhouettes evoke a sense of luxury — particularly the luxury of time invested into creating each piece.

Elaborating on it, Anshu says, “Within the realm of bandha, we have worked with GI-tagged khandua and Sambalpuri textiles. From tribal Odisha, we have worked with the kotpad shawl of the Mirgan community, the kapdagandha shawl of the Dongria Kondh tribe and the ringa loin cloth of the Bondas. Boito Beginnings also uses Odisha silk and cotton.”

The aspect on which the label has experimented the most, however, seems to be the colour palette. “I attempted a fresh colour palette inspired by Odisha’s sunsets, coastline and the dark brown piles of wet wood we saw in tribal settlements. These are most apparent in the Khandua pieces, as this community is open to a fresh approach without moving too far away from the sanctity of the weave,” Anshu explains, adding, “It’s interesting to see how a shift in colour can totally transform the feeling textiles evoke.” 

INR 20,000 onwards. Available online.

Email: prattusa@newindianexpress.com
X: @MallikPrattusa

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