In an effort to promote sustainable fashion in India, The Woolmark Company along with fashion designer Manish Malhotra unveiled a capsule collection, “Inaya”, which features attires created using a natural fibre called Merino wool.  The line that was showcased at the Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2018 is out now and is available at Malhotra’s stores in India, Dubai, Europe and the UK. The collection is Malhotra’s first Merino-wool line, which presents designs made exclusively from the fibre like never before.

The first thing that comes to mind when we think about wool is that it would put off the average fashionista. But ace designer Malhotra, through this line, has attempted to change this perception. He has set an example for all who care about the farm-to-fashion trend, putting the good old yarn to stylish use with his capsule collection.

This is also a means of supporting sustainable fashion, which is the need of the hour. Talking about his new collection, Malhotra said, “With ‘Inaya’, we have presented woollen sarees for women and bandhgalas and sherwanis for men.”

Fashion designer Manish Malhotra.

Malhotra believes that wool as a fibre has been “under-utilised” all this while. About the inspiration behind the line, he told Guardian 20, “My collection means care and concern in Kashmir. It is inspired by the Valley’s timeless beauty, culture, and traditional art, motifs—the old-world charm of Kashmir.”

He continued, “The collection brought together the artisans and culture of Kashmir with the versatility of Merino wool, using 80% of it. The pieces are crafted in intricate Kashmiri embroidery, and it is my attempt to bring together the exceptional craftsmanship of those artisans with Merino wool.”

Malhotra has used intricate tilla and zari embroidery to celebrate the beauty and aesthetics of Kashmir. “Classic and bold jewel tone colours, like black, maroon and emerald green, along with pastel hues such as ivory, yellow and blue, were used while creating this collection,” he added as he talked about the colour scheme of the collection.

The collection launch at the Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2018 in February opened with a special screening of Slowing Down of Fast Fashion, an insightful documentary by Alex James; followed by an interactive panel discussion aimed at capturing the pulse of this relevant global topic. The panel discussion, moderated by Priyanka Khanna, saw personalities like Nonita Kalra, Che Kurrien, designer Ruchika Sachdeva, and the COO of Campaign for Wool and IWTO President Peter Ackroyd, participate in active debates on the environmental cost of the industry, consumption of fast fashion and so on. The session concluded with a special show by Malhotra with a live installation displaying the Merino wool-inspired collection.

The designer at the event expressed his happiness to be associated with The Woolmark Company for a collection using Merino wool. Malhotra said, “There is tremendous respect in the fashion industry for The Woolmark Company and the meaningful way in which they engage with the fraternity. I have worked closely with Woolmark in the past, as part of the jury for the Indian edition of The Woolmark Prize. This time around we created an entirely new collection, ‘Inaya’ using wool in a tribute to my love for Kashmir.”

The idea behind this line is the belief that sustainable fashion is the way forward. The collection, therefore, is an attempt to boost sustainability and bring to the fore the issue of environment. Malhotra at the fashion show also shared his views on these subjects. “Sustainability has many layers, most important of which are an affinity to the environment and the sustenance of communities and cultures. India has a long-standing history of cultural weaves and is one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world. I have worked extensively with heritage weaves and used Kashmiri embroidery extensively across both Indian and Western silhouettes,” he said.

He added, “As part of the fashion industry, I strongly believe in using platforms that the Manish Malhotra label works with to present Indian crafts and craftsmanship in a manner that resonates with contemporary fashion-lovers across the world. The idea is to break barriers and curate a dialogue in the language of fashion between the craft and consumers.”

“ Sustainability has many layers, most important of which are an affinity to the environment and the sustenance of communities and cultures. India has a long-standing history of cultural weaves and is one of the largest textile manufacturers in the world.”

On how wool has revolutionised the fashion industry, Malhotra said, “For many years, international fashion houses have done some impeccable work with wool. Fabrics are to a designer what a blank canvas is to a painter; it is the foundation of every collection I create. Traditionally, the mention of wool has evoked images of winter-wear and functionality. But, thanks to its rich texture, wool lends itself beautifully to glamorous silhouettes and detailing. When it comes to wool, the reason I give it a modern Indian interpretation is to showcase its versatility.”

The Woolmark Company’s Managing Director, Stuart McCullough, also shared his thoughts on this collaboration with Malhotra. He said, “We take pride in highlighting Australian wool’s position as the ultimate natural fibre grown year-round. Our collaborations and projects in India are aimed at unfolding the natural and renewable story behind Merino wool to newer audiences. Our co-created collection with legendary designer Manish Malhotra, Inaya, truly represents this philosophy and highlights Merino wool and Indian craftsmanship seamlessly, pushing many boundaries. As we progress into an age with increasing consumer awareness, we’re confident that Merino wool’s natural proposition will hold strong and truer than ever.”

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