‘One dress, infinite ways’ is all it takes to convey the message of Kumari, a ready-to-wear Indian brand that focuses on re-wearability. The label is now a year-old creative collaboration between Delhi-based fashion designer Rashmi Varma, and Malika Verma, brand specialist and founder of design agency Border&Fall. The two have previously collaborated on an anthology documenting regional Indian drapes titled ‘The Sari Series’ in 2017. The collection of over 80 short films showcases their hands-on experience and know-how of the sari drape which translates into effective modern design in their young label.
Kumari was launched with just one piece—a pre-stitched concept sari dress that can be styled indefinitely. Available in different colours and patterns, and even using vintage textiles, the brand banks on the combination of Indian heritage and innovative design. Best known for their ‘Twice Loved’ collection, which is made from pre-loved saris, Kumari champions upcycling through simple darning techniques and by concealing tears and damage with stitched over embroidery. With an online shop, Varma tells us that they “hope to bring accessible design to a wider audience.” In soft solid colours, prints and lightly embroidery, the dresses are all accessible priced under Rs 25,000, bridging the gap between refined aesthetic and approachable occasion wear in the market.
Asrepurposing and longevity of garments remains at the core, the e-commerce launch also offers the option to barter saris in return for a Kumari dress—saris exchanged by the clients will be employed in the making of one-of-a-kind dresses fabricated from vintage pieces. In addition to the trade feature, customers can also bring in their personal saris to be transformed into one of the brand new draped dresses.
“The process involves deciding if the sari is able to withstand stitching and receiving measurements before making the dress, which can take upto three weeks,” the designer adds on the personalisation experience. “Customisation has always been important to us, just not convenient (or lucrative) for mass production. With Kumari, our off-the-rack pieces have been tried by many people over the years and graded very carefully. They fit many body shapes and custom options tend to be preferred by bridesmaids and brides.” While resale and vintage shopping remain at a nascent stage in Indian traditional fashion, Verma believes in the growing acceptance among consumers and how the barter system can change the game.