We believe in everything handmade!’ That’s the motto of ForSarees, a home-grown brand that’s championing the versatile heritage drape. The Ekla Chalo sari that has Rabindranath Tagore’s immortal lyrics ‘Jodi tor daak shune keu na ashe tobe ekla cholo re’ block-printed on the border and pallu, is sure to be a Puja special. Ritu Oberoi, founder/CEO, ForSarees, tells t2 about the sari and their other festive picks.
The Ekla Chalo sari looks interesting. How was it conceived?
I wanted to connect with every Bengali woman, from all age groups, through one sari. After the initial research and my visit to Tagore’s museum, I realised he is an emotion every Bengali resonates and connects with even today. I wanted to pay my tribute in my own way, which is when I thought of why not bring this to life through our saris, and thus this evergreen lines on the sari.
Sonali Kulkarni in an Ajrakh sari
Tell us more about the elements in the sari...
These saris are hand-block printed in natural dyes using dabu technique. The fabric used is cotton, and we have brown and indigo colour saris. Rural artisans from Rajasthan’s Kaladera area have worked on these saris. We have deliberately used these two colours for the saris as they bring out the essence of the sari very well and the star of the sari are these lines.
What makes it apt as festive wear for Durga Puja, besides the Bengal connect to Rabindranath Tagore?
Festivities means hustle, hence what we wear must be comfortable at the same time eye-catching and different. This comfortable cotton sari is not only easy to drape but they are also a conversation starter apart from being easy to maintain, quirky and trendy in every aspect.
A mul cotton sari
Did you get Vidya Balan’s feedback on the sari? She totally identifies with the Bengali culture.
Oh, she loved it, wore the sari and shared her response through a message. It was really encouraging of her to do so, especially for a small business like ours.
What else are you designing around the festive months?
We are bringing Ekla Chalo saris woven in jamdani technique as well. Besides these, we have a lot of silk saris from Pochampally to Kosa silks for the festivities.
Most of the designs are traditional motifs done by artisans for generations. We just intervene to create unique patterns which are relevant for today’s women. I would say, we co-create with our artisans using historic designs giving it a contemporary touch. It is really a learning experience every day with our artisans, they are so open to experimenting, trying to create something new each time we launch a collection
Ritu Oberoi, founder/ CEO, ForSarees
What are festive classics?
Subtle silks and fine cottons are a safe bet for festivals, considering the weather in most part of the country. We also have a range of solid colour silk saris which do well in festivals.
Looking back a little, how has the three-year journey been so far?
We started off a little slow and had a huge plan to scale up but then the pandemic struck. It has been tough to sustain, and to ensure the artisans associated with us do not suffer due to lack of work. We kept the artisans engaged and kept ideating and planning for the future. The festival season is a huge hope for us, and we are all geared and looking forward to it.
What has been the most fulfilling part?
The impact we make through our work is the most fulfilling part. Whether it is the all-women kantha project in villages near Bolpur, ikats in Andhra or Bhujodis from Kutch — one thing we have ensured is financial stability for the artisans associated, and we are proud of this as a team.
What kind of joy do you derive out of designing?
Well, I will not call myself a designer but a co-creator. Most of the designs are traditional motifs done by artisans for generations. We just intervene to create unique patterns which are relevant for today’s women. I would say, we co-create with our artisans using historic designs, giving it a contemporary touch. It is really a learning experience every day with our artisans. They are so open to experimenting, trying to create something new each time we launch a collection.
Tell us about your love for saris...
I have been a sari lover since college. When I was working in the media industry, I would be the only one in saris while most people were in casuals. This love and passion encouraged me to use my expertise of sales and marketing into this sector and make an impact. The curiosity I have to research and learn about weaves and the region they come from, has helped me a lot.
Give us a sari for every mood!
Our mul kantha saris in five colours are the ones for every mood, be it casual outing with friends or going for office meetings. They are pocket-friendly, vibrant, handcrafted and stand for women empowerment. Our Bhujodi collection is for women who want to keep it simple but make a statement like in a small get-together or a party or even a small function at home. Pochampally ikats are in vibrant colours and are available in cotton as well as mulberry silk, they can be worn for festivities as they are just right to add the pop in the festivities.