ILAMRA is a fashion label that’s driven by the concept of slow and ethical fashion. The label juxtaposes arts and crafts with contemporary designs, blending Kalamkari in modern silhouettes. The founders of the label, siblings Yashila and Trishala aim to revive and promote artisans and weavers using handcrafted techniques and organic textiles.
The name Ilamra is derived from the Sanskrit word Ila – earth, Amra – mango tree and Ra – the sun. Yashila and Trishala say they were inspired to come up with the name from the fond memories of their childhood. “We were very nature-centric. Whenever we were at our aunt’s backyard, we would sit under the mango tree and watch the sunlight falling on us. It gave us a huge sense of positivity and inspiration,” says Yashila.
Ilamara at an exhibition
Yashila and Trishala both hold a degree in engineering and have always been interested in fashion, arts, and crafts since childhood. “There was a time when we had to choose a fixed career path, that is when we decided that our true calling is making something out of the crafts that we really love, and we decided to go into designing. We wanted to create something that has meaning to us and in some form gives back to the community,” says Trishala. Thus was born the label in in 2017 as an online store and became fully operational in 2018.
Initially, the sisters designed their clothes with hand block printing and chemical dyes but realised the impact of it on the environment and decided to switch to organic cotton, natural dyes, and kalamkari.
With no exposure in entrepreneurship or even fashion, Yashila and Trishala started the company from scratch. “We had an idea but we didn’t know where our money would come from. We started with the seed money of ₹30,000 that was generously donated by our parents,” says Trishala.
Yashila and Trishala manage most of the work from content writing to designing. They freelance with illustrators, photographers, models and work with a marketing agency on a monthly basis.
“Ilamra has taught us everything from digital marketing to merchandising. We divide our work equally. In designing the clothes, I am on the technical side like the prints and Yashila is on the details and the styling part of it. We design our clothes on the basis of something that we would like to wear or would like to see on people,” says Trishala.
The prints are inspired by their travels and anything in their daily life that fascinates them, but Nature remains the main source of inspiration. “We don’t blindly follow the market trends, with sustainability as our core, we focus on things that last for a long time,” comments Yashila.
As a startup company and most importantly as a slow fashion brand, the execution was one of the challenges. The cottons are sourced from Pedana, a village in Krishna district of AP and the textiles are washed in the river — a move that helps keep the carbon footprints as low as possible.
“Time is very important. The process is slow from the dyeing of clothes to the sourcing of cotton, and a hindrance would mean slowing the process that is already slow,” adds Trishala.
The audience’s knowledge of slow fashion is also a challenge because not everyone is aware of ethical consumerism and sustainability and that’s where the relevance of work of the label is limited.
Yashila and Trishala plan to launch a digital magazine soon keeping in mind the motive to promote arts and crafts while following ethical and sustainable practices in fashion.