April 2nd, 2019: Starting today, The Kashmir Collection, created for the Usha Silai label under the mentorship of Rohit Bal that was showcased at Lakmé Fashion Week in January this year, will be available at the designer’s store in Defence Colony, New Delhi. Usha Silai is the sustainable fashion label launched by Usha International in 2018 in consultation with IMG Reliance. This is the third collection under the Usha Silai label and reiterates Usha’s commitment to preserving and growing local talent and crafts while creating a go-to-market platform for the women.
The Usha Silai label was conceptualized to highlight the potential of the Usha Silai School initiative that started in 2011 and today has under its umbrella 20,350 Silai Schools training women in the remotest parts of India how to sew, empowering them to earn from their homes. Women who have already been trained at the Usha Silai Schools and have the aptitude to learn the finer nuances of creating designer garments are mentored and upskilled to create the Usha Silai label collection. Every garment in the Usha Silai label collection focusses on quality and creativity and goes through stringent quality checks. This collection by Rohit Bal is truly unique, in that, the women from Kashmir who created it raised the bar for themselves, learning new techniques and the finesse this collection demanded. As a person who is from Kashmir and understands life as it is there, Rohit Bal uses motifs, colours, cuts, and fabrics to bring alive its timeless beauty in his inimitable style.
Rohit Bal presents the “Guldastah” collection, which showcases the beauty of Kashmiri embroidery by the expert women from the Usha Silai Kashmir Cluster. He has used exquisite organic fabrics like cotton, silk blends, Chanderis, silk organzas, silks and velvets with motifs of magnificent flowers of Kashmir to reveal amazing Kashmiri craft.
All profits earned on the Usha Silai label garments are ploughed back to these women, enabling them to earn up to INR 5,000 per garment. This additional income is transforming their lives by helping their families access better education, nutrition, and medical aid. The intent is to empower each of them to amalgamate the local culture with what they have learnt, helping release their creative and entrepreneurial spirit.
Chhaya Shriram, Director, Usha International, said, “Usha Silai Label in Kashmir with Rohit Bal is an inspiring story. In just a short eight months, this amazing Guldastah collection made by Usha Silai School Women from Kashmir, reinforces our belief that the right intent coupled with up-skilling and hard work makes for success. These ladies really set the bar high for themselves, braving challenging circumstances, freezing weather conditions, shifting work bases, living away from their homes, but all the while, never losing sight of their goal, to create an extremely high standard of design, representative of Rohit Bal’s quality and sentiment, and also their own aspirations to learn to be good designers.”
Dr Priya Somaiya, Executive Director, Usha Social Services said, “To see how the Usha Silai women who made this collection have moved the needle is quite remarkable. This journey has demonstrated the potential these women have to deliver when equipped with the right training and mentoring. It underscores the commitment and intent of the Usha Silai School initiative on identifying solutions to problems and focusing on action and implementation on ground. For me, it’s been an extremely enriching experience.”
Rohit Bal commented, “I feel a sense of great pride working with these women of Kashmir and putting a whole collection together. They were trained by the USHA Silai team and have worked relentlessly in the freezing winter of Kashmir and created this collection.
This is an incredible venture put forth by USHA Silai and being a Kashmiri myself, I feel very emotional about this project. It’s very close to my heart and I wish everyone all the best and I hope that this small spark can kindle some warmth in the hearts of all that are involved and more.”
Jaspreet Chandok, Vice President and Head of Fashion, IMG Reliancecommented, “This is a partnership we are proud to have played a role in, not just because of the outstanding garments on display today, but the intent behind it. To have this collection stitched in Kashmir by the Usha Silai women showcased today at a Rohit Bal store is a triumph and we hope to continue and grow this association.”