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SMB STORIES : From Damn It to DARN.IT_ !

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

From creating the hand embroidered version of Starry Night by Van Gaugh to preserving even the flower embraced packaging , this new-born brand Darn.it_ is up

Not sure if there will ever be a time when I know Everything , So I started with what I had in my hand - a college degree that taught me what Fashion was about , handful of savings from my first job , my love embroidery and scraps ! Niharika Gupta, a NIFT Grad found her love of life while in college.


"I knew I always wanted to be a Fashion Designer" , she chuckles. " I even found my slam book , the ones we had in childhood a couple of years back ,written boldly 'To be a Fashion Designer' in the column which asked , what I wanted to be ", Niharika says.


Fashion has always been projected as a Glam project , decked up with bling and those glamorous Fashion Shows. A reason why almost half the aspirants want to go into NIFT anyhow. A year or two into the college and you learn so many more things than just the glamour part of it. A designer learns various techniques and it's applications. They work with different mediums , explore different ways a material can be manipulated and processed to make an entirely different product.


A module that is subtly woven into a designer's mind is a subject that lets all doors open for experimentation and exploration with different techniques on the surface of a fabric. A technique that a lot of brands use to distinguish them from the crowd : Surface Development .


Niharika's journey into the newly found venture is an amalgamation of understanding of how garment industry is the second most terrible contributor to the ecosystem , the love for Embroidery and the will to take a small step towards Sustainable Adoption. A term that is still a newborn concept for Indian consumer & a responsibility on literally everyone's shoulder , being an active consumer. The most a designer can do at her / his end is spread the word through actions.


With half a year into a Plush Menswear Brand, working as designer , she decided this is not what she's meant to do. Remembering her college days , Niharika remembers ," Back in college days , I collected scraps from our Garment Construction classes and it started as hobby when I put together these scraps into a texture and embellished them with embroideries. I would show them to my faculties and they loved them. So when I decided to take the organic shift , I knew what I was meant to do . "


Sorting from the entangled bunch of scraps , Niharika started her journey of Darn.it_ ; a word used for Repair both Knitted & Woven Fabric promoting an urge to repairing what already exists ; with a series of Embroidery Compositions in Monochromatic Theme fabrics of different colours for the next couple of months. On digging further , the Sustainable Designer spills her Secret Sourcing Point : waste fabrics from boutiques , tailors , donated clothes from friends and family which might be bedsheet to an old cloth you are now bored to wear and a strict no to buying new fabrics . The designer is open to donations of worn out fabrics through parcels (paid for the parcel) & prefers Cottons & linens rather than synthetic fabrics such as polyester or nylon.


" As pandemic hit the country , the first mask I made for my mom as essentiality turned into into utilities needed at bulk. An experimentation with organic dyeing turned into Hand Dyed Masks , Hand Embroidered - Thread & 3-D Embroidered ,Custom Embroideries , By-lines on Masks later .", the designer says . And as the waste grew , the product line started to grow too and these beauties helped the designer get more insight and exposure what people wanted . Everything from satin bands , to Scrunchies , Drawstring bags , pouches , laced & hand embroidered French Barrettes , minitature dresses , sleep masks are upcycled. Each of the product is re-made to life from waste tailors and export surplus. These fabrics are sewn together to make beautiful utility products , some adorned beautifully with back stitch , French knots and beads.



The brand not only uses fabric wastes but also , fibre & yarn wastes , used laces , to make beautiful baubles , tapestries , small The essence of DARN.IT_ in terms of social responsibility is such that each package is packed in an upcycle ,biodegradable , paper textured and perfumed naturally with flowers , folded neatly with hands and a hand embroidered " Thank You" note on each ; which are not just a personal gesture to connect with the customers , but also can be used as a bookmark later . The usage of gummed Kraft paper , a bio-degradable packaging tape , which gets activated on application of water on the pasting side of the top and adds to the binding strength even more , is used in Dran.it's packaging . A perfect Zero waste brand we all need to appreciate !


Custom orders for handmade miniature dolls with varied skin tones for Dinava Shop , Multiple hand-embroidered textured wall-hangings , The Community Project by Textile Artist Vanessa Barragao are some of the places where the Designer has participated &/ worked for , along with the orders she receives via her instagram handle.


"The project into an Upcycling Brand during my college made me realize the commerciality of upcycling , along with Fashion as well" , says the Designer who worked for a label 'Doodlage' which is a blend of sustainable and exclusive high street fashion. When asked about the adoption phenomenon of Indian Customers , the designers says " We all know how Fashion is one of the top most reason why the Earth is entering into a dangerous zone as the waste contributes so much in polluting the environment. But people are usually looking for 'pretty li'l things' . Sustainability for a costumer , is just a concept here in India , while people from across the border accept thrifted stores , upcycled clothing and recycling wastes with open arms ." But My aim is to create a Sustainable garment line of my own " , Niharika laughs a positive vibe as she is up with using what she best has in her hands now and encourages people to do so too!


 

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