Dori Designs celebrates Karnataka’s illustrious handlooms by creating beautiful and sustainable fashion that is also comfortable to wear.

Weaving magic This Bluru company makes modern outfits using traditional Ktaka fabricsArvind Sridhar
news Fashion Wednesday, May 02, 2018 - 13:40
Written by  Chesta Ahuja

Imagine wearing a crop top and palazzo pants made from the same fabric as your grandmother’s sari? Wouldn’t it be just the perfect combination of old and modern? That’s what Dori Designs does for you.

Seamlessly woven from the regional Ilkal fabric and embellished with the traditional form of folk embroidery Kasuti, Dori aims to revive the traditional handlooms of Karnataka and blend them with contemporary designs.

The clothing brand celebrates Karnataka’s illustrious handlooms by creating beautiful and sustainable fashion that is also comfortable to wear. This formed the basic idea behind Dori’s latest collection, Festive Edit, which uses rich Indian colours combined with elegant embroidery and modern design. It is also an attempt to alter the perception that handlooms are plain and boring.

Blue flared dress, palazzo sari and orange overlap crop top are a few of the key pieces from the collection. The palazzo sari is made up of an Ilkal handwoven crop top, a palazzo and a checkered sari pallu, becoming an instant hit with customers.

Designer and founder of Dori Designs Nikitha Satish says “The collection has separates that can be worn in multiple ways.”

Back to roots

Nikitha, who started Dori about four years ago, says, “I wanted to do something on my own, that’s when I started exploring Indian textiles because my idea was to contemporise Indian designs.”

The designer decided to start from her native place, Dharwad in north Karnataka, to try and understand her own roots. She then went on to explore Aminagad in Bagalkot district to research and learn more about the Indian textiles and to interact with the weavers as well.

“This made me understand the state of Indian textiles and I realised that it needs to be worked on,” recollects Nikitha.

On asking about her decision to choose Ilkal over other Indian textiles, Nikitha replies, “Ilkal has been confined to saris whereas other Indian textiles have been used in other types of clothing, that’s how they have survived.”

Dori currently partners with north Karnataka weavers at the NGO Kaikrafts and the women’s co-operative Charaka to use their skills to create all the fine-looking pieces.

Unfortunately, Ilkal weavers do not want to teach the art to their children and want to stop practising the craft, which takes up a lot of time and effort, since it is barely recognised or appreciated in the Indian market.

Discerning costumers

Dori believes that design should be sustainable and not just a reaction to current trends. This gives Dori a niche costumer base that acknowledges the efforts of the artisans, the elegance of the traditional handicrafts, the bright Indian colours of the fabrics and the sheer comfort-with-style designs.

On the marketing approach for the brand, Nikitha states, “We don’t have a strategy for marketing as such. It’s just very organic. The focus has always been on genuine interaction with the customers. We tell the stories of artisans because we represent them, and we love that our clients understand and appreciate that.”

She further shares, “We love to do pop-ups and interact with the customers and understand their needs. Because we mainly retail online, we enjoy these meets, from which we learn and implement suggestions!”

Talking about the concept of the brand and the idea of popularising the art and skill of the weavers, Apoorva Amaresh, who modelled for the Festive Edit collection, says, “Dori is truly connected to the roots and it actually educates people about sustainable fashion by showing them glimpses of who makes your clothes.”

Styling for men

The men’s line Su’i (meaning needle in Hindi, as a counterpart to Dori, which means thread/string) is designed from the Malkha fabric, which is woven in Telangana, naturally dyed with indigo, handspun and handwoven. The texture of the fabric is raw and organic. The fabric gets softer and better with wash and wear, which is perfect for men’s clothing.

Nikitha, in her blog, The woven dream, says, “As a designer it is very challenging to design for men. The limitations, the structure are difficult to apprehend the first time.” But she eventually came out with a collection that is suitable for the modern man.

Dori’s other collections include Patio, Crescent and Adorned Tales, all of which have a story to tell about the choice of fabric, the creativity and the efforts and hard work of the artisans of north Karnataka.

All pictures taken by Arvind Sridhar.