Giving age old saris a new lease of life

Lavanya Rao’s brand Aavanya is all about staying close to the roots with a twist

By Author  |  Published: 27th Jun 2020  7:00 pm

A closet full of saris stares at you and you don’t know what to do with them. It was this conundrum that was faced by entrepreneur Lavanya Rao who found herself racking her brain what to do with the yards of expensive, and often sentimental value, fabrics that people deal with when cleaning out wardrobes. Saris are particularly hard to let go of as for many women, they have many emotions attached to them.

So, Lavanya got to thinking and realised that she could actually turn around old pattu (silk) saris, silk kanjeevarams into brand new designs with ample use of block printing and so started her homegrown label Aavanya in 2010. Utilising the training she underwent at the Weavers Service Centre in block printing, Lavanya began to create new designs for infusing some new blood into a dowdy old saris that needed some TLC.

“People treasure clothes that have been handed down by their mothers or grandmothers. Most are uncertain what to do with them, so I tell them if the fabric is reusable, how best we can make it trendy again. I have a strong affinity for traditional things and it’s very satisfying to make something classic into a contemporary outfit,” explains Lavanya who works out of her home and has grown her business through a combination of social media and word-of-mouth publicity.

I ask my clients what they have in mind first, and then discuss the patterns they would like. I already have existing prints ready to use, but if somebody wants a custom pattern, I create it and then give it to the block maker. I also take permissions from artists to use their designs. Depending on what kind of order I get, it can take me anywhere from 10 to 15 days to complete the order,” adds Lavanya.

Her expertise not only lies in saris and dyeing, but she also transforms home décor items with her block prints in bedspreads, table mats, table spreads, curtains, wallpapers, and block-printed photo frames, etc. It’s not just the ladies, even men approach her to get custom block print kurtas.

With orders coming in from as far as Canada and Dubai, Lavanya is a busy lady. These days, with the restrictions in place, she is open to video calls to discuss designs and sends over the finished products by post or courier. Drop her a text on her Facebook or Instagram to place an order.

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