Mara Vera: Returning Soul to the Textile Industry
Mara Vera Textiles, and its founder Drashta, burst into my life about two months ago and I haven’t stopped raving about the collection since. Not only am I captured by the stories of the artisans who make Mara Vera’s products, I have come to call the brand’s founder a friend.
While clothes giants H&M and Zara are dominating global street wear trends, groups of incredibly talented designers are resisting “fast fashion” to create collections that are bringing soul back to the textiles industry. Drashta and her team of weavers and printers are teaching us to consume differently, they are rebelling against “disposable fashion” to bring us collections that have soul, and sustainability, woven into every inch of them. In Mara Vera’s case, it’s beautiful, one of a kind cushions that we can relax on and exquisite scarves that evoke a new sensation every time you wrap one around you. All handmade and using eco-friendly practices; no electricity is needed to create a Mara Vera product, how unique is that!
Here Drashta speaks to Flor + Cesta about the inspiration for Mara Vera, as well as sharing her thoughts on the future of the fast fashion industry.
Tell me a bit about you.
I’m Drashta, founder of Mara Vera Textiles and your typical textile nerd trying to make a small difference in this big world. I have a BA in Fashion Design and before Mara Vera I ran a women's clothing brand which supported 15 families in Mumbai, India. I was fortunate enough to twice have my designs featured on the cover of Vogue India and multiple times in local editions of Elle, Grazia and L’Officiel, amongst other magazines. The fast-paced nature of the industry always made me feel like a misfit. During these years, I came across Babu our master weaver who needed help to keep his heirloom textile art alive - I made that my mission. Today through Mara Vera we provide work to three weaver families in Kutch, Gujarat and one printer family in Rajasthan. I travel twice a year to India to develop new textiles and print designs. Happiest whilst working amongst the artisans in India I now call London home.
What was the inspiration for Mara Vera?
The meaning of Mara Vera is 'My Love' in Gujarati language, which is also my mother tongue. I have fond memories of wrapping my ganny’s sarees around my head and turning them into five meters long textile braid.
India has a rich textile heritage and eco-friendly practices, which needs to be shared with the world. More now than ever before since sustainability in the clothing industry is a requirement, not an option.
All Mara Vera textiles are handmade from start to finish. Each scarf is hand woven on a pit-loom from locally sourced cotton and silk yarns, producing the finest and most luxurious silk cotton handmade textile out there. The process of block printing starts with transferring the paper drawing onto a piece of wood. This is then hand carved in to a block. Once ready this block is dipped in natural dye to transfer the design on to the textile. We use locally sourced, indigenous yarns, block printed with natural dyes making the entire process eco-friendly, sustainable and socially conscious. Zero electricity is used during these processes which I think is pretty unique these days!
For the artisans - weaving and printing is living, and Mara Vera creates opportunities for them to reach markets they otherwise have no access to.
What are your plans for Mara Vera and how do you remain sustainably conscious as you grow the brand?
We measure our success in the number of artisans we are able to support. Like Babu & Gauri there are many more weaver families who are struggling to keep their art alive due the rise of power loom textiles required to manufacture cheap fashion.
The model Mara Vera currently follows can be multiplied without compromising the brand ethos and it’s core philosophy. In fact with the growth there will be a bigger team of weavers and printers who will hep bring-up the graph of sustainability and social consciousness.
By the end of this year we’re hoping to support six weaver families to produce hand woven scarves, unique organic cotton textiles for pillow covers and a range of textile tableware.
Why did you decide to give back some of the proceeds you make to the communities making Mara Vera's products?
Mara Vera invests 5% of the proceeds towards the development of the artisan communities. By giving back a part of the proceeds we're enabling our customers to be a part of something bigger than just a transaction. With each purchase our customers are not only supporting the livelihood of the artisans but also making an impact on the rest of the world.
If you could say one thing to all the CEO's of fast fashion retail brands what would it be?
There has to be a shift in the gear. Sustainability is the biggest trend and it is here to stay. These CEO's have the ability and means to change the norms of the industry. Change the way consumers shop. Think outside the box because sometimes there are better ways to achieve business goals. Better for the company, consumers and our environment.
It's a matter of time before the consumers demand more transparency. Why not be the front runner? Collaborating with micro sustainable brands could be a great way to bring about that much needed change.
Mara Vera’s creations take hours of work and they are a piece to invest in and treasure for a lifetime. Shopping at global fashion retail chains is like going to a fast-food joint to eat burgers. You feel bad afterwards. The mass market has lost its soul, let’s support independent designers and their teams to bring that soul back to the textile industry and keep the skills of these wonderful artisans alive.
Stay tuned to find out more about the artisans behind Mara Vera’s creations in a series coming soon on Flor + Cesta. For now, find out more about the brand and shop the Mara Vera collection here.