Tradition with a modern twist

Tradition with a modern twist

Making a mark

Tradition with a modern twist

Working with traditional handwoven weaves is Juilee Bendkhale’s forte. She launched the label ‘Zuilee’ on the Gen Next platform for the Lakme Fashion Week and soon became a favourite amongst discerning women across the world.

She was recently in the city to showcase her khadi and silk apparels. In a chat with Anila Kurian, Juilee talks about her collection and how she’s made a mark in the industry.

Tell us about ‘Zuilee’ and its inception.

After I graduated from my course in apparel designs in 2002, I worked with a corporate fashion brand for a while. The idea of working with handwoven and khadi textile base interested me. I wanted to make fashionable clothes the authentic way, using the traditional weaving techniques with a modern touch. That’s when I visited various weaving and craft clusters in India to connect with the artisans directly. Thus, began the journey of ‘Zuilee’.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your collections?

My inspiration comes from the craftsmen and the craft itself. Apart from the researching techniques, I also look at various motifs, yarn qualities and colour used traditionally, especially the ones that aspires the artisans. That’s how each collection comes about.

Tell us about your khadi and silk collection showcased in the city.

We are showcasing a lot of lightweight silks and khadis in modern cuts and silhouettes. It also has a gorgeous blend of traditional and modern techniques. The collection also comprises of soft silks and breathable khadis. The colours of the silk impart vibrancy to the collection while the khadi colours make it beautifully serene.

What makes your collection different from the others?

The khadis are made up of completely natural, rainfed and pesticide-free indigenous organic cotton. We acquire the organic cotton from rural Maharashtra, handspun and woven by the local women. The collection, thus, has a minimal carbon footprint and is stoically rooted in the ‘swadeshi’ movement. Every garment is delicately crafted with pick-stitched detailing. The collection is structurally distinguished by flowing abstracts, geometric patterns and Ikebana florals.

When can one wear a ‘Zuilee’?

‘Zuilee’ has different handwoven weaves like ‘ikats’ and self-textured stripes complemented with tie-dye ‘laheriya’ silks — all in contemporary cuts and silhouettes. Going beyond the traditional style, ‘Zuilee’ has crafted innovatively handwoven lace-like textiles in abstract patterns. These abstract textiles are smartly interpreted as day dresses as well as stoles. So basically, anytime!

What do you think about the fashion trends in Bengaluru? 

I have seen that women in the city have a natural appreciation for traditional Indian textiles. I am confident that my collection will also be loved by Bengalureans. It’s important that as Indians, we develop a modern interpretation of our traditions and not follow Western brands as benchmarks of being modern.

Is there a particular style that you’d like to get rid off in the market?

I would like it if people stop donning cliched Western clothing styles. As Indians, we need to get over the colonial hangover and develop our own indigenous modern stuff.

Your advice to women who aren’t confident in what they wear.

Believe in yourself and find your identity. When that happens, the confidence and style will follow.