How Paiwand explores the dualities of urban consumerism and waste upcycling – Lifestyle Asia India

How Paiwand explores the dualities of urban consumerism and waste upcycling – Lifestyle Asia India

Through the hustle and bustle of the mundane, the drudgery of an urban cityscape, Paiwand’s latest collection ‘City Blues’, showcased recently at Lakme Fashion Week x FDCI bids to provide a stage to artisans through thread work and repurposed waste. Ashita Singhal the founder of Paiwand Studios, the winner of this season’s ‘The Spotlight’ tells us about the showcase and what it stood for.

In ‘City Blues’, we walk through the streets of Delhi, Ashita Singhal and Paiwand Studio’s hometown. Drawing an anti-thesis to plastic billboards and urban waste found around the narrow urban alleys and highways, the collection focuses on handlooms and repurposed katrans, the urban waste used as raw material for her designs. It showcases the dualities between consumer culture and sustainability, Paiwand’s ‘City Blues’ pushes the meaning of fabric and design.

With handcrafted textiles at its core, the collection explores contemporary silhouettes through handlooms. Edgy overcoats, vibrant hairdos, and eccentric art pieces walked the two tilted ramps that intertwined each other – a circular stage that mirrors the circular motives of the collection. “Each aspect of this show was something for us to play with, something for us to dare, something for us to challenge, and define unconventional,” The designer told us.

A few key pieces including the Jod caught our eye, “A visual take on our interdependency as city dwellers, our jod piece saw woven kataran binding two models to each other,” Ashita Singhal elaborated. Similarly, the avant-garde Bamboo bodice and the show-stopping look, a kaleidoscopic silhouette made of multiple waste strips told a strong message through design. “Each look from the collection derives from the city dweller, the range being a reflection of the diversity a city holds. It is a melting pot of different ideas, techniques, lifestyles and philosophies, each co-existing and playing pivotal roles. Our collection highlights this aspect while toiling around the darker shades that often loom around the urban megastructures.” She added.

In conversation with Ashita Singhal, Paiwand Studios

Ashita Singhal with showstoppers, Kishan Swaroop ji and Brahmjeet ji

Paiwand’s ode to the unconventional extended further than just their set design or silhouettes, but also in their choice of showstoppers. “To us, our weavers are the most important pillars of Paiwand. Kishan Swaroop ji and Brahmjeet ji, master weavers hailing from a small village called Pilakua, bordering Delhi closed the show for us. We shared the ‘Spotlight’ with these craft geniuses who believed in my vision and dared to weave from a completely unthought-of raw material. The intention is not simply to revive crafts through sustainable materials but to establish weaving with waste as a legacy craft.” Said the designer.

Tell us about the inspiration behind ‘City Blues’ and how the collection was born.

The inspiration behind ‘City Blues’ stems from my deep-rooted connection to my hometown, Delhi, where I have redefined my perception of mountains, replacing the Himalayas with the Ghazipur landfill. Motivated by a steadfast commitment to diminish textile waste in landfills, I embarked on a sustainable journey, founding Paiwand. The collection, ‘City Blues,’ delves into my complex relationship with the city, addressing the issues of mass consumerism and herd mentality prevalent in urban cultures.

City blues seek inspiration and also inspire the city dweller. The one who dares to dream in the concrete jungles. The urbane today exists in contrasts, yet stands together when need be. As we draw parallels between textile waste and the narrow urban alleys, our collection gives visibility to those often overlooked in the fashion industry, the artisans behind our couture. Paiwand, through City Blues, stands to redefine how we look at waste and the urbane while providing an alternative to the vicious mundane circularity entrapping the cityscape.

What does “Paiwand Lagana” stand for and how does it represent the label’s identity?

“Paiwand Lagana” is a local common phrase in India which means to patch or repair. Our label is inspired by the same ideology and is an ode to the bygone culture of valuing rather than discarding. Paiwand sees beauty in bits and fragments, unwanted things in life, and believes in adding value by repurposing those forgotten pieces.

Tell us about your upcycling process and Paiwand’s take on conscious/sustainable fashion.

At Paiwand, our commitment to conscious and sustainable fashion goes beyond mere words, it’s ingrained in every step of our upcycling process. When textile waste arrives at our workshop, it undergoes a meticulous transformation journey. First, it’s carefully sorted, washed, and ironed to prepare it for its new purpose. Then, utilising innovative design techniques, the waste is skillfully cut into strips and joined together, forming the foundation for our unique textiles.

The upcycled fabric strips are then meticulously prepared for weaving, where our talented artisans insert them as weft on the loom, weaving together a new narrative of sustainability and creativity. This intricate process not only breathes new life into discarded materials but embodies our commitment to reducing waste and minimising our environmental footprint.

With constant and dedicated effort over the years, today I have built a supply chain of waste as a raw material and helped transform perspectives towards textile scraps. Paiwand has had a significant environmental impact and crafting consciousness and relevance of circular production models in the design community.  Through years of unwavering dedication, I have established a supply chain utilising waste as raw material, catalysing a transformation in perspectives towards textile scraps. Paiwand’s significant environmental impact and advocacy for circular production models have reshaped the landscape of the design community. The brand has breathed new life into the Delhi weaving cluster, embracing sustainable production methods rooted in age-old craft techniques. As a craft revivalist, weaver and social entrepreneur at heart, through ‘City Blues’ I reimagine a sustainable, slow and craft-oriented, urban cityscape.

Tell us about the connection with the thread we saw in your showcase at Lakme Fashion Week. 

To us, those threads are katrans, fabric scraps that become our raw material, an integral part of our upcycling. Initially, when the models were tied to the threads, it represented entrapment, the hold that consumerism has on urban society. Throughout the showcase, we had our katrans as a recurring connotation of the potential of scraps and to depict various levels of urbane fraternity.

Elaborate on the mood, setting and drama.

A set of two tilted orbits heightened at certain angles was a ramp design that was borne out of the need to highlight this idea of circularity. Models going around on these circular orbits were a demonstration of the chokehold consumerism has on urban society. The initial drama, which involved a set of models breaking free of entrapments they were tied to, reestablished the idea of a deliberate effort to break free of herd mentality, to make choices that lead one to an active pursuit of sustainability and not a passive enabler of fast fashion.

The soundtrack of a fashion show is an added space for expression and our music too abides by our recurring themes. The music was a mix of upbeat techno tracks with certain hints of subtlety, highlighting the highs and lows of an urbane setting.  A cacophony of the handloom along with the sounds of weavers was layered upon the city sounds; a pious ode to our studio. Based in Noida, right in the middle of an urbane industrial, apparel mass-producing hub, ours is handmade heaved heaven. Like a mirage amid a desert, our studio houses handlooms and is an architectural extension of the Delhi weaving cluster, standing in the middle of export houses all around. Its existence is no less than a marvel and the soundtrack of our show established that effectively.

Hero and Feature images: Courtesy Paiwand Studios.