Here is our Revolution Talk with Divya Ahluwalia, the founder and designer behind ethical fashion brand AKIRA MING, an Indian-based ethical fashion label for women who desire to wear the finest clothes without harming the environment. All items of the AKIRA MING collection are timeless and a perfect high-quality addition to every capsule wardrobe. Scroll further to read our Q&A with Divya.
Your daughter´s love for nature and animals has inspired you to found your own fashion label named after her: AKIRA MING. Tell us about your touching story.
Yes, I named the business after my daughter, Akira. I have 17 years of experience as a successful fashion designer and yet, it was only when Akira arrived that I could connect with my purpose in life. Even as a very young child, Akira had an affinity for nature and animals; she would spend hours looking at trees and their leaves. She even brings injured stray animals home to help them recover. Akira gave me a whole new view of the world. Kids often follow their parents. For me, it has been the other way round. I couldn’t think of a better name than hers to create a brand that has the same values at its core as she does.
For your beautiful silk pieces, you only use Ahimsa Silk (also known as peace silk), a non-violent silk. Please explain the difference between conventional silk manufacturing and the Ahimsa silk yarn production.
Ahimsa Silk is extracted in a humane manner without hurting the insects that created it. The philosophy behind Ahimsa Silk, as its name suggests, is one of peace and non-violence. One of the most popular champions of Ahimsa, Mahatma Gandhi, advocated it as a way of life, something that each one of us could adopt in our personal lives. Standard silk production requires silkworms’ cocoons to be boiled to allow extraction of threads; silkworms are not able to survive the high temperature levels and die trapped inside their cocoons. On the other hand, Ahimsa silk production involves a milder method where the worms are
allowed to hatch and leave the cocoon naturally; once the cocoon is empty, silk can be easily extracted.
After the silk yarn has sourced and spun ethically, where and how has the fabric been woven, printed, dyed and manufactured?
We source our silk fabrics directly from Mr. Kusuma Rajaiah, who owns the patent for the technology. The fabrics are washed and printed at our Printing partners in Bangalore- Tharangini Studio. We design and develop our original hand carved wood blocks for all our prints. Tharangini -run by Padmini Gobind- is the perfect printing partner for us. They resonate the same ethics and respect for the environment as our brand. Sustainably harvested gum arabica crystals and water based binders are used for all our printing. We also the love the fact that Tharangini supports various social causes and supports various charitable organisations for women and children in Bangalore.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How did you learn to design fashion? (Did you study fashion design?)
I had a love for art, fashion and creatives even as a young child. I would spend most of my free time sketching and getting my Mom to sew my designs. I studied fashion design at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Delhi. My first job was with India’s famous fashion designer Ritu Beri. Later, I worked with several export firms in Delhi, providing design support for various International brands.
Your current festive collection is so beautiful as well as your winter 2017 collection. Where do you take your inspirations from to create these beautiful patterns combined with timeless yet contemporary cuts and handcrafted embroidery?
My inspiration almost always comes from nature, especially for prints and embroideries. I also love traditional hand crafted embroidery techniques and would love to offer a new take on several Indian ethnic techniques to the world. For our festive collection, we used traditional mirror work technique and mokaish (thin metallic wire) to create beautiful occasionwear dresses.
I keep the silhouettes easy and classic – something that you can have in your wardrobe for a longer time, unlike disposable trends.
Do you ship your pieces from India worldwide?
Yes, we ship worldwide.
If you had 1 wish free within the fashion industry to change, what would it be?
I would wish that polyesters would disappear and people would go back to natural, sustainable, organic fabrics that are good for us and good for the environment!
Thank you for the interview Divya.
In cooperation with Akira Ming.