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    Zila is the newest addition to the city’s slow fashion movement, with organic clothing and summer shades.

    Serendipity meets sustainability in Lalitha Calidas’ new organic womens’ wear brand, Zila. The city-based designer shares the story behind her month-old green brand and tells us how the dearth in sustainable, albeit fashionable, clothing pushed her in the right direction. “Sustainability is something that has been of concern to me, in all aspects of my life, and Zila was born out of a serious conversation between my husband and me about conserving our resources on a day-to-day basis,” says the 27-year-old, who  worked at Rangoli in Auroville before starting her brand. She adds that her husband, who is working on a start up of his own, has been immensely supportive—from planning and conceptualising, to launching the brand.

    By the hand
    The NIFT graduate launched Zila on Facebook on May 6 with a capsule collection of hand-crafted tops, dresses and trousers. The first collection is primarily of organic cotton and khadi in summer-friendly hues of white, off-white, indigo and anar (yellow). Calidas is particular to ensure that sustainable practices are followed at every stage of development and production. “I’m fortunate to have acquired diverse experience working with fashion companies with vastly different ethos,” adds the designer, who interned at Ethicus in 2011, an organic farm-to-fashion brand, which gave her valuable perspective on sustainable fashion,  while her design skills were honed at RoverCo, a multi-million-dollar garment export house that works with international fashion brands like Marks & Spencer.

    Easy wear
    We liked the dresses (the tie-and-dye white and indigo) and the anar maxi dress (Zila uses only herbal dyes), as well as the white tops with different cuts and embellishments. “I chose a simple yet elegant style that brings the fabric into the spotlight,” says Calidas, whose travels to Rajasthan inspired her to use tonal hand- embroidery, adding a textural beauty to the garments. Featuring bell sleeves and shirt dresses, the easy-to-wear silhouettes are on trend. With her debut collection selling out, the designer says she is happy to continue with her Facebook boutique and will be bringing out new designs every month. Calidas, who professes to be a fan of organic fashion exponents Anita Dongre, Rahul Mishra and People Tree, hopes “to explore and grow on a similar scale and build a credible image for Zila”, while also looking into plans of partnering with exclusive boutiques in the city and hosting an e-platform soon.

    From Rs 1,200 onwards. Details: facebook.com/zilaclothing

    — Shibi Kumaramangalam

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