From power suits and blazers to gowns, sarees are being converted into stylish Indo-Western outfits
Converting either sarees that’s been passed down generations or buying new ones to be designed as a whole new outfit, designers have been coming up with very interesting outfits
There’s said to be a certain grace and elegance when one wears a saree. But what happens when that same saree is converted into an Indo-Western outfit? Most often, that becomes a showstopper outfit. Perhaps that’s why more and more Bengalureans are upcycling the six-yard outfits these days.
Converting either sarees that’s been passed down generations or buying new ones to be designed as a whole new outfit, designers have been coming up with very interesting outfits. Designer Nagashree Sriram of Udupu Designer Studio in Jayanagar recently created a power suit using a pink and golden Kanchipuram saree for a client. She says, “The client wanted to create something different for a function and she came with the idea to make a power suit out of the saree. So, we made a pai of flared trousers, crop top and blazer to complete the outfit.”
Sriram says that Kanchipuram sarees give it a unique look for the person wearing it to stand out in the crowd. “Since it’s six yards long, unless you’re making a lehenga, there will be materials leftover. Sometimes people get extra kurtas made out of it or do matching outfits as mother-daughter type of outfits,” she adds.
Old wedding sarees is an haute favourite for upcycling, says designer Nagashree Gururaj of Pixie Rental Studio. “The wedding sarees that either you’ve worn or that belongs to an older generation just sits in the closet for a long period of time. People don’t really want to discard it, so they use it to make dresses, gowns or kurtas,” says Guruaj.
Although upcycling sarees into other outfits isn’t a brand new concept, Guruaj feels that people have turned nostalgic after the pandemic. “I had a client come in with a saree which belonged to her grandmother who passed away during the pandemic. So, she wanted to make something else using the saree. Similarly, there’s a lot of sentimental value when people bring old sarees to be designed,” she says.
Working with Kanchipuram sarees seems to be a favourite with designers, but materials like chiffon, georgette and cotton-silk blend also have their purposes. Designer and content creator Aishwarya Iyengar loves using these materials to not just bring out a new outfit but also use them for creating accessories under her brand called Earth Up. She explains, “It is difficult to work with some sarees if they are old because when you pull it in a certain way, it might tear. Then you have to use the leftover material. But, when you know the quality, you can always use them as linings, pocket sleeves, buttons and so on. You can always create accessories with them as well.”
Using parts of the saree to complete an outfit is also a way Iyengar works. She says, “Reworking on a saree has its pros and cons. Since each piece is unique, you cannot create five different sizes of it in one saree. But it helps the wearer keep the original design of it and wear something others probably don’t have,” she says.
Designer Bassam Osman of Studio Bassam says saree blazers are very popular among foreigners. “In India, when you recreate an outfit using a saree, people will immediately know its origins. But for a foreigner it becomes an exotic piece on its own,” he says, adding that he created a blazer for his clients using Kanchipuram saree.