Taaka Clothing: A Stitch in Time

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Taaka is a conscious clothing brand that merges handloom textiles with needlework to create garments that have a distinct identity

The heritage of Indian crafts and handlooms is so huge that it is always a huge source of inspiration. And this is how Taaka was born. Natasha Tyagi Sachdeva, Founder, Taaka & Head of Design & Creatives a graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology was quickly exposed to the needs of the growing fashion industry where she learnt everything from designing value buys to different price points that served a variety of consumers within India and overseas. Working with the best in the Indian retail industry empowered her to make decisions that could lead to enormous changes within the organisations just by the power of good design. She tells us about Taaka Clothing in this exclusive conversation.

When and why did you start Taaka Clothing?

While the industry was learning to grasp the knowledge of delivering a cheaper product with the same resources year after year, it was clear that this cycle would break due to the unsustainability of the model. Competition that leads to intense cutbacks in costings by increase in production and methods that are bounds to generate greater waste is like a ticking bomb for the economy and the environment. I was aware of the diminishing quality of life being led by garment factory workers across the globe. In 2017 Taaka was born to be the solution. Careful planning of our first collections and budgeting along with firming up the policies of our work environment and our main goal took us close to 10 months in the development. We have been open and operational via our own online store from September 2018.

Taaka Clothing
Taaka Clothing

Why did you choose to work with needlework and handlooms as a combination?

Coming from the Textile Design background, I have loved and dreamt of the khadi of India to become a fabric of choice for every humans basic needs, and not just a luxury. Khadi is still very misunderstood within India to be a starchy and old style. The recent interventions by the Ministry of Indian Textiles and Indian Fashion weeks hosting Indian textiles day have revived the faith greatly within the fashion circuit.  As a designer, I felt it my responsibility to choose Khadi or handloom fabric made by Indian weavers who have been paid the right price for their fabric. This led me to meet the team of Women Weave, Maheshwar, India. Women Weave is a registered Charitable Trust based in Maheshwar, MP, has supported and developed the role of women in handloom weaving since 2002. Their support into providing ethically produced 100% certified Khadi and handloom fabric makes up for the heart of the brand Taaka. In the age of machine embroideries, digital prints and zero human intervention, the concept of having needlework on our khadi enhanced our idea of supporting craftsman to a wider pool. By involving more humans than machines, we can revive the faith of the Indian artisan to teach and involve his or her future generations in the same craft, helping increase the life of heritage craft of India. A commonly used term “hand embroidery” is also used for all the embroidery made by artisans using a hand guided machine. At Taaka all our embroidery is made from pure human effort, no machine has been used in the making of these pieces of art on textiles.

What is your design philosophy?

Our design philosophy is to make clean clothing that brings about the beauty of even a single stitch put in place. The fabric is rich and combined with simple lines and clean cuts enhances the beauty of the textile even more. We want each piece of Taaka to be treated as a heirloom, which defines the silhouettes to be timeless.

Who or what inspires you?

India. For centuries India has been a melting pot for many cultures and has always flourished in their artisanal produce. My travels across the world have further etched the need for us to showcase our strengths and be proud of it. Our foreign friends who I have seen to have more value of Indian craft than many Indians themselves, are an important learning curve into understanding that we need to bring back the glory of India first to India. From our thread to our packaging, every detail of Taaka is made in India.

Your collections have rather unusual names, can you tell us about it?

The work of our clothes is more than just providing for shelter to your body. It speaks of the richness in the produce of the land along with invoking the feeling of being at one with nature. One clover and a Bee, our first collection is inspired from poetess Emily Dickinson who writes how we may not need too much to build on our dreams, supporting our concept of reducing the burden on nature by our need for over consumption. Similarly KARI our festive range honours the Kaarigar (Hindi for craftsman) of the world, not just in textiles but every human involved in the painstaking task of continuing to create by hand in the age of machines.

Taaka Clothing
Taaka Clothing

Please explain what ethical measures are employed at Taaka Clothing?

Our non-toxic production cycles include minimum machine intervention making our carbon footprint lower with every improved process. Our waste management resources include the usage of textile waste to be reproduced as upcycled products like bags, baskets, books, key rings etc. We are constantly empowering our workforces through knowledge about business and transparency in methodology. We focus on consuming 100% easily bio-degradable material, from button till packaging and reducing multiple sizes by innovative design, another step taken to reduce surplus or broken sizes leading to unsold inventory.

What do you think of the slow fashion movement?

It is endearing to see the world talk about fashions need to slow down. The informed millennial is already changing the way they buy. Young students and working professionals are now reading up about brand philosophies and choosing to buy products that are more craft based. The simplest way to beat the current problem is to be conscious of your consumption and create less waste year after year. In food, water, clothing, housing and everyday lives, learn to live a simpler life.

Taaka Clothing
Taaka Clothing

What are some fashion trends you see in 2020?

The trendiest person in the year 2020 is going to be the person wearing a piece of clothing that is inspiring. What is in trend will be defined by the footprint of the band on the environment rather than the length of the clothing or the silhouette.  Earthy colors either naturally dyed or mimicking the natural dye colors will also be setting the tone for the palette in the year 2020 onwards.

What makes your clothes different from others?

Apart from all the good karma that each piece of Taaka clothing carries, the soul of the brand lies in the needlework. The little flowers and bees that are formed using one kind stitch at a time are speaking for all our expert artisans who have crafted every motif from scratch. The process behind every embroidery of Taaka involves the age old traditional process of stretching and fixing the fabric on a wooden frame to secure the fabric. The design is transferred on the fabric by punching small holes to make a perforation through which a combination of white chalk and water is printed onto the textile.

What are your future plans?

At Taaka we believe in a steady growth plan in sync with the environment. Our future plans are to be available out of select stores across India and overseas. Our online store makes us available to any location in the world and we intend on spreading the message of buying handmade goods through our products.

This story first appeared in the January 2020 issue of Apparel magazine here:

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