When sisters Sujata and Tanya Biswas decided to kickstart an apparel brand, they launched with a collection of simple mulmul sarees that featured vibrant tassels. “They were basic, no-fuss weaves with no embellishments that weren’t available in the market then. The fabric was unstarched, hence making the saris soft. We wanted them to smell like our grandmother’s saris,” says Sujata of their brand Suta’s maiden collection in 2016.
Cut to seven years later, and their Mumbai-based label Suta is synonymous with handwoven saris and blouses that cater especially to young wearers. The last two months have seen the launch of five collections. With another launched this week, and a new store in the city, the duo has their hands full. “We hope for this to be a ‘slow’ store where people can come talk, and connect,” says Sujata, of the outlet on RK Salai, adding how the store’s large facade is what she loves the most. “It has ample natural light that really had us hooked.”
For the festive season this year, the sisters are seeing a focus on exaggerated statement blouses in a range of material and necklines, floral motifs, and a revival of organza, and zari. Their collection Devi — launched on September 26 — has been in the works for almost eight-nine months. The collection champions the mashru weave handwoven with a silk warp and a fine cotton weft. “The saris feature less handwork but have a lot of surface techniques. We have used bright and bold colour combinations such as bright green with pink, black and maroon, etc.,” shares Sujata, 37, adding how the connection is inspired by the “nine emotional states of Navratri”. Devi comprises nine saris, each of which embodies and interprets a specific emotion such as courage, triumph and tenacity, among others..
“We think a lot of wearers, especially our younger audience, want an alternative to heavily embroidered and embellished festive wear,” she says of the Fairy Tales and Fireflies collection that comprises mulmul cotton sarees with delicate zari detailing. In rich jewel tones and adorned with floral motifs, the saris are meant to be draped easily and are ideal for long durations. “The floral motifs are a nod to the various applications of flowers during festivals – as ornamentation, decoration, and offerings. The collection’s title signifies the saris’ easy-breezy appeal and the dainty way in which the zari catches the light,” she says, adding that the weaves are paired with non-padded cotton blouses.
Surreal Escapes, launched mid-September features silk organza sarees and blouses with hand-embroidered motifs. “They are Nature-inspired, and come with a lot of detailing such as French knots,” she says of the collection that was in the works for one-and-a-half years. And Kota cotton saris that feature hand-embroidered chikankari work are the highlights of the Jhumroo Junction range.
Another recent launch at the brand is Retro Rani, a range of Chanderi sarees with lace accents. This collection, explains Sujata, is inspired by “the royalty of yore, with the diaphanous, light-as-air sarees gleaming brightly in rich jewel tones”. It has taken 15-20 days to weave each piece, and Sujata says Chanderi’s rich and luxurious appeal is what led them to highlight it in their festive range. In the 1350s, Kosthi weavers migrated to Chanderi, a town in Madhya Pradesh, from Jhansi, from where they propagated this weave. “It is said that the royals of several dynasties famously favoured Chanderi fabrics for their richness and utility in the searing hot summers of the plains. The blouses have the same border on the sleeve, and we have attempted to replicate the retro feel of tissue fabric with this collection.”
The new launches aside, their Chennai store will also stock exclusive products such as Kalamkari saris, handpainted weaves, kidswear, and men’s wear with fun prints. “We love that Chennai has a very distinctive sense of style, and is willing to explore and experiment with what they wear,” she says, adding how they plan to host events such as book readings, lectures, etc. at the store to bring the community together.