Collection made with ancient art

Designer Runa Ray has used a Japanese technique in her latest line
Last Updated : 21 April 2023, 23:53 IST
Last Updated : 21 April 2023, 23:53 IST

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Recently, fashion environmentalist Runa Ray created a collection for the Monaco Ocean Week 2023, which was displayed at the Monaco Yacht Club.

The collection was showcased in March, at the fashion week held by the Prince Albert II Foundation, which focuses on climate action for the oceans. Her ‘Strait of Couture’ collection “aims at connecting the planet and humanity”, and is based on the ancient art of water painting using seaweed.

About the inspiration behind her collection, Runa explains: “As a fashion designer, I worked on trying to mitigate water wastage and water pollution by negating the carbon footprint caused by industrial printing and dyeing techniques. The theme was chosen to showcase what fashion could do to curtail its pollution and work with local coastal communities to provide alternative incomes.”

The fashion designer who uses art as activism to advocate policy changes, works on designs keeping in mind the reduce, reuse and recycle model. “The recycle model used here is primarily for the oceans, wherein one can at the end of the garment’s life, reuse them by converting them into small bags in which we can grow seagrass,” she says.

The garments are few in number and unique, and can be worn with heels to a red carpet event, or dressed down with keds or even flats. This versatility is a blend that goes a long way in bridging the gap between high fashion glam events and that of a brunch gathering, says Runa.

Making process

Runa believes that as a designer one needs to know the source of the fibre and any large part of the garment manufacturing technique that involves a large chunk of CO2. “In this case, where printing was the main focus of the clothes, I worked with the women seaweed divers in Tamil Nadu and used seaweed in the printing technique. This helped me control the entire process and reduce water wastage and pollution as a whole, since the seaweed was food grade and the inks naturally derived from plant sources,” she explains.

Craft conscious

Dyeing crafts are important to revive “as they hold in themselves the secrets to climate change mitigation, especially in fashion”, says Runa. “The art of floating inks is from 12th century Japan and it is relevant in today’s fashion because of the simple fact that 20 per cent of the global waste water is from industrial dyes and the textile industry as per a report by WHO,” she says, elaborating about picking the ancient dyeing technique of floating inks for the collection.

How challenging was it to design garments using such an ancient and indigenous technique? “Like any craft that is done well, it is laborious but the end result is fascinating. Irrespective of the fact that such collections might take longer to create, in the long run, it will be worth all the time,” she says.

The beauty of this technique is that it can be used on natural fabrics are well as synthetics, says Runa. “I stress on synthetics as most of the synthetic fabrics that would generally end up in a landfill can be reused to reduce waste and printed upon with this technique, which automatically renders a wonderful print that is unique, climate friendly and indigenous,” she says.

Published 21 April 2023, 19:39 IST

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