. . .You can feel the love of the craft that has gone into the work by the craftsman. Through having a supply chain that holds eternal and ancient values, I hope to inspire others to take caution in how they are approaching their lifestyle in all aspects.
This quote from the namesake and designer behind the emerging brand Sita Bell speaks to her philosophy. EDGE champions designers who make a meaningful impact to the fashion industry. Sita Bell brings meaning to why she designs fashion with a cultural and sustainable purpose, with reverence to traditional Indian trade values. The importance of traditional trade and the use of ancient craftsmanship is intertwined in her designs and spirit of who she is.
An interview with Sita Bell. . .
RP Hill: So much of fashion is hard edge, extreme, tailored, or trendy. Your design is specifically for women and your approach embraces the true feminine power of women with a pronounced softness. You also incorporate a sustainable practice while empowering local villages to showcase their ancient craftsmanship in the production of your line. How and why did you choose this direction and vision for your brand?
SB: I am inspired by eternal and truthful qualities. I felt that the power of a woman is not always understood in the right way, even by woman. Power is not always harsh and strong… feminine power is divine and sensitive… the power to be understanding and dynamic for example.
For me, the world has been moving so fast and loosing ancient crafts and values that have been passed down for thousands of generations. How can we allow such skills and knowledge to be lost? When you feel something that has been homemade, a pie, a scarf or a teddy bear, it has a completely different feeling. I have the same feeling when I feel some hand loomed cloth, you can feel the love of the craft that has gone into the work by the craftsman. Through having a supply chain that holds eternal and ancient values, I hope to inspire others to take caution in how they are approaching their lifestyle in all aspects.
What is your first memory of fashion?
Drawing LOTS of fairies with dresses on, and I have the most stylish Granny.
What past or current designer has influenced your designs and why?
Now I mostly am inspired by the very intelligently fused fashion of Indian and Pakistani designers such as Sabyasachi and Rohit Bal. Although, most of my designs are inspired by old 19th century paintings of Victorian ladies and the Orient by Lord Edwin Weeks and a tinge of 1950’s Dior and Balmain.
How do you get your brand exposed to the market – website, fashion or trade show, social media, etc. – and of your choices which is the most productive for you?
I have so far been to a few holistic trade fairs, and I try to keep up to date online. I find that, with my clothes… when people touch them they are attracted, because the feel of the clothes is so lusciously cotton and are normally not available. THAT they cannot resist. I enjoy having small kitty parties with around 15 ladies in a local community and getting them to try on all the clothes together. This gives them a chance to have fun and feel beautiful, and it reminds me of an old fashion way of trading. It’s sweet.
What are some of the difficulties or challenges in today’s role of a fashion designer and how do you find ways to overcome them?
It is difficult to encourage some people to have awareness of what they are exploiting or encouraging. A lot of people do not care or understand what it means to have real quality things that will make them feel great, and the price is not different from what they would normally spend. I try to expose the work I am doing to show them how cotton is really made, and what the people who make it look like… then the seed is planted in their heart.
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
Dressing older ladies; having a real cause, without even really searching for it and relishing the importance and feel of Hand- Loomed organic cotton. I am also proud of myself for making my own brochure and website. A lot of people think I paid a lot of money for it.
The road for an independent designer is not that easy, but a lot of lessons are learned along the way. Share a business tip with the EDGE network that has served you well.
My lovely advisor at my local job center told me to always stay true to what you want to do. Don’t change it just so it makes things easier for other people.
At the end of the day when you have put in a lot of hours, when the pressure of the deadlines are immense, what keeps your drive for this business going? What makes you feel celebratory?
That I am doing my own thing, that I am not under anyone and I have so much to give and everything is in the right place.
EDGE congratulates you, Sita Bell, on your journey so far and extends continued success for the future!
Images: Courtesy of Sita Bell