Aratrik Dev Varman’s sustainable brand Tilla is for the thinking woman | The designer talks to IFM about his therapeutic clothing line
“We believe we can transform everyday living.” This sums up the soul of Ahmedabad-based label Tilla by Aratrik Dev Varman, aiming to design fuss-free contemporary clothing for everyday folk doing everyday things. His latest collection, launched at Kiran Rao’s The Amethyst Room, Chennai, feels like a refuge, a much-needed pause. Sounds like the kind of style you’ve been looking for? Read on to know the label and the man behind it better.
What role has Ahmedabad played in grooming and nurturing your design sensibilities | Ahmedabad is a city that has a living tradition of crafts and many old “karkhanas” or ateliers, from printing to dyeing, weaving and embroidery. It has also historically been a centre for trade, as well as largescale factory production of textiles. It has many beautiful examples of religious and secular architecture, modern classics by Kahn and Corbusier, as well as institutions such as the National Institute of Design, where I trained. Learning and practicing design in Ahmedabad has been an essential part of my journey as a designer.
What makes your affinity to the rural Indian craft and embroidery so strong | At a personal level, I enjoyed making things with my hands even as a child, and still do. Summer holidays were often spent in activities like drawing or making clay piggy banks, and now I feel like I’ve graduated to making clothes. Our learning at NID (National Institute of Design) focused greatly on fieldwork and an exposure to environments other than the studio. On one such trip to Kutch, I began making connections between the beautiful embroidered textiles I saw and the people and environment in which they were created. They were innovative, bold and joyous. I realised this was an expression that had evolved over several years in time, and was very special.
Can you take us through your creative process | In general, I don’t follow trends or forecasts as Tilla is about creating timeless clothing that people can grow into? Sustainability is about creating clothes and a style that lasts. Ever since Tilla began four years ago, we have continued to work with the same families and people that we started with, besides adding to our growing community.
How do you add contemporary twists to age-old heritage crafts | Dramatic changes can be achieved with very small twists. For example, we have worked with cotton at the fiber stage, trying different constructions and blends with silk, to make our khakis wrinkle as soon as they touch the water. In bandhani, we have taken away color using a discharge process instead of dyeing the fabric. Some ideas like engineered printing are more in the spirit of revival, as this was often how garments used to be made in the past, instead of cutting from yardage.
With a meteoric rise in the renewal of Indian textile and embroidery, how far do you see it go on a global scale | With the right design approach, investment and marketing strategies, Indian textiles have huge potential in a global marketplace? Our tradition is replete with ideas and forms that can be adapted to modern living.
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