|| Padmashali – The untold tale of The Weaving Saga || – Aastha Ritu Garg, Founder and Designer at Padmashali
The universe has mysterious ways of bringing people together. I’ve always dreamt of connecting with people, moreso women, from various spheres of life, from various parts of the world. Until Padmashali happened, I wasn’t sure how, and if, this was ever going to be possible. But now, I’m here, writing this to welcome them—our kind of women—strong, independent, imaginative, experimental, unapologetic, fearless in their own way yet simple
We all grew up on lores from mythology, didn’t we? My childhood was no different. A tale from Vishnu Puran chronicles the birth of an enigmatic persona from the navel of Lord Vishnu, who wove a beautiful fabric out of intricate thread work from the petals of a lotus flower. He became the Master Weaver of Gods and came to be known as Padmashali.
When I was searching for a deeper institution for Padmashali’s inspiration, I recalled this story I had once read, or heard. That’s when I knew I had found just the inspiration I needed to start up my own label, born out of sheer passion for the artistry of weaving. While this may look like the beginning of my story, this is pretty much where it all started to come together.
The real origin is dated far back, somewhere in 1995…
While the kids around me were busy building a kingdom of toys, I found myself growing up in the majestic world of my mother’s wardrobe. Being a connoisseur of authentic Indian weaves herself, Maa’s wardrobe was a medley of colours, textures and weaves, assembled from various parts of India, that caught my fancy. I would spend a little time every day observing
my mother getting dressed for the day and then spend a lot of time after trying to perfect the drape on myself, in front of a mirror or huddling with my siblings. A small seed of passion was sowed deep down in this innocent childhood.
However, as time passed, things changed and I went on to pursue my MBA. It’s not often we think that fashion can be a career choice, do we? I even put my mettle to test by working as an Area Sales Manager for a leading coffee shop chain but my heart and mind remained elsewhere. Eventually, I quit my job and decided to reignite my childhood passion by combining my management skills and entrepreneurial instinct. This was the real turning point in the original saga. I took upon myself to dive deeper into understanding the subject, I travelled a lot to identify weavers I could collaborate with, where I learnt a lot about the art and science behind handlooms from heritage artisans. And that’s when, in no time, the seed bloomed into a self-established venture in the form of Padmashali.
To be honest, it was nerve-wracking and exciting at the same time, especially because I had no professional degree or experience to back up what I had decided to pursue. But there’s no force stronger than your determination when you’ve set your mind (and heart!) on something that truly reflects what you stand for. I knew Padmashali was the dream I wanted to turn into reality, and I began envisioning the mission behind it.
In a thriving industry like fashion, many ventures are realised but only few manage to stay true to what they originally started off for. Padmashali was incepted through my musings of mythology, history, art and culture to create designer ethnic wearables—whether suit co-ords, dupattas or saree designs. The tales of mythology from my childhood stayed with me and continue to inspire Padmashali’s homegrown design language, while my travel experiences, interest in reigniting forgotten or slowly diminishing artisanal art fuel modern design renditions of traditional handloom.
A little over a year has gone by since Padmashali came into being and I’ve had 365+ days of pure playground to experiment, exhibit, engage and experience what keeps me ticking. It’s really the vision behind the brand—to empower everyone who is connected to Padmashali with choices of creative expression. Fashion, unlike popular opinion, for me is beyond a superficial phenomenon. It’s a way of empowering our artisans to revive their heritage and earn livelihood. About 45% of our team of weavers from various parts of India are females who are either sole breadwinners or equal contributors to their family incomes.
I’ve grown up in a family where Maa, Daadis and Naanis, Buas and Maasis, Mamis and Chachis, Didis and Bhabhis, have all come from different backgrounds and have diverse values but what keeps them connected is the principle of inclusive womanhood. This is probably where I get my understanding of women being more supportive, more appreciative of each other. They say, ‘Empowered women, empower women’. This is the kind of interdependence Padmashali aims to build with its Padmanayikas—modern day women who are rooted in tradition yet challenge conventional norms and taboos. Fashion for the Padmashali women is beyond just a pair of clothes in their wardrobe, beyond trends… it’s an uninhibited expression of who they are, a choice they make. Padmashali is a friend, a confidant, an inspiration and a voice of these empowered women who are an integral part of my journey and Padmashali’s inspiration.
In a short span, Padmashali has grown from being my journey to being the journey of women who identify themselves with us. As I enter yet another glorious year, along with our Padmanayikas and our artisans, I invite you to be a part of the journey of ‘The Weaving Saga’ that continues to evolve with Padmashali with a ray of hope that just as we enjoy creating timeless fashion for you, you enjoy wearing our designs…