Ethicus spins a tale of two cities in its latest collection

The organic weaves of Ethicus fete the colourful life of Mumbai and Pollachi

While terms like ethical, sustainable and handloom feature in the vocabulary (or collection) of almost every other designer, they are often ambiguous and open to interpretation. However, Vijayalakshmi Nachiar, the co-founder of Ethicus sticks to more textbook definitions — organic cotton cultivated in the fields of Pollachi, woven into fabric by weavers of the region and hand-printed on by artisans from Kutch. In her first exhibition in the city this year, the entrepreneur is set to launch her premium cotton collection ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’, while also presenting her limited edition collection Ajrakh at Amethyst today.

All about craft

Armed with certifications from the Control Union and the Indian Handloom Brand, Ethicus has been making cotton saris for the last seven years. “We started out when sustainable fashion was not the rage, but I guess my fascination with textiles was something that was inherent even as a youngster,” she says. So it may come as no surprise that the now 40-year-old went back to her Kutch roots, rendering their printing and dyeing traditions onto six yards. “Our artisans belong to the ninth generation of a family of Ajrak printers,” she adds.

Riot of colour

Find a range of saris, stoles and dupattas describing scenes of daily life in Mumbai, apart from Ajrak prints in her repertoire. “Mumbai Meri Jaan carries designs of the city’s landscape — Gateway of India, Sanjay Gandhi National Park— across the collection. This line celebrates the spirit of the city,” says the alumnus of SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai. Citing that indigos and reds are traditional colours associated with the print, Vijyalakshmi explains that the brand has strayed away from staple hues and dabbles with organic shades like mustard, pomegranate, crimson madder, grey and black. “The reds are so vivid that even the artisans are surprised. Maybe it is because of how fine the cotton is,” she says with a laugh.

Making the past present

Updating design layouts of what is touted to be one of the earliest forms of blockprinting, Ethicus uses a melange of Ajrak motifs and colours across the fabric, while using South India pallu motifs. “The challenge is reinventing your designs within the constrains of an art or textile tradition,” she shares. Looking to broaden her horizons, Vijayalakshmi reveals that she is currently exploring other artisanal techniques that will feature in her next collection.

Rs 5,000 onwards. At Amethyst. Today and tomorrow. From 10 am to 7 pm. Details: 45991633

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