Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘fashion’

Traditional buttons.  Ananya's working on the design for packaging these.

Traditional buttons. Ananya's working on the design for packaging these.

Village women weave the fabrics using techniques that have been passed down through generations. The silk, cotton, or wool from villages across India get wrapped up in brown paper and mailed to Auroville, to a business called Upasana. In Upasana’s airy sewing rooms and sunlit design offices, the traditional fabrics are transformed into modern saris, pants, and dresses. The clothing is eco-friendly, better than fair trade, and is preserving India’s rich yet waning textile tradition. And yet, none of those things seem to be Upasana’s purpose.

 

Lacey and Ananya with a shoe that Ananya designed and made from palm leaf

Lacey and Ananya with a shoe that Ananya designed and made from palm leaf

I found out about Upasana from my roommates Lacey and Ananya. Lacey is a fashion journalist from Louisiana, doing an internship at Upasana for ‘ecological design.’ She does the PR stuff for the different clothing lines and initiatives (Upasana also has an eco-bag campaign). Anaya is an industrial designer from New Delhi, and is one of the few young people (both her and Lacey are 22) who gets paid for her work at Upasana. I’ll definitely be writing more about both of these girls later; they have such interesting stories.

 

10am tea time.  Everyone was really nice; I got invited to come back whenever I wanted!

10am tea time. Everyone was really nice; I got invited to come back whenever I wanted!

One of the things that makes Upasana special is its unique working environment. There’s a meditation room for group meditation on Thursdays, or for workers to use whenever they need a moment to relax. At 10am everyone stops what they’re doing and has tea and snacks together. At 12 is lunch, and at 3pm is another tea break. There’s no rush to get as much done in as little time as possible, but Lacey says that the workers have an amazing output of products. Upasana’s clothing gets sold at retail stores all across India and Europe.

 

Ananya with her favorite piece; a mini skirt that has the story of the Hindu gods painted onto it.

The most eye-opening part of my visit at Upasana was the short talk I got to have with Uma, a woman from Northern India who is on the board of governors here at Auroville and who founded and runs Upasana. She said that it was inner development that needs to come first. All of the good things that come out of Upasana are a side effect of focusing on spiritual self-development. Yesterday Ananya said that everything that Uma does; the group meditation, the tea times, etc, it all comes down to people being able to live lives that are centered on spiritual growth. When I stupidly said something like, ‘In the US, we are super individual and tend to be isolated from people. Focusing on yourself can be good and bad, right?” She said, “You need to remember that the US is not a reference point for the rest of the world,” and then proceeded to both compliment the individuality of Americans and critique it.

I agree with Uma; I have to stop using the US as a reference point for everything else that I learn. But then, should I look for different references, or stop comparing everything I learn to something else? Upasana can be a good reference point when it comes to clothing and the atmosphere of a workplace. Whether it’s a reference point or a source of enlightenment, I have a lot more to write about it.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »