Updated: Jul 4, 2021
Arras is a clothing brand rooted in the unique textile strengths of the North East Region (NER) of India while staying true to its commitment towards preserving the environment. In 2018, the Founder Unmana Rynjah gave up her corporate job in New Delhi and moved back to her hometown Guwahati. A first-generation entrepreneur without any formal education in fashion, her North Eastern heritage allowed her to have a good understanding of the textile and handicraft strengths of the region. This, along with her determination to positively impact the environment and thereby, our quality of life, motivated her to take the leap with Arras in 2019. Arras works towards the parallel goals of collaborating with the latent population of weavers to shine light on the weaving skills in NER as well as working towards a sustainable future by ensuring that the clothing that is created is kind to the people who create them, the people who wear them and to the environment.
With eight states clubbed together as a whole, NER is a geographically diverse region with over 220 ethnic groups each with unique customs and traditional designs that remain under-represented even at the domestic level. Currently, the brand collaborates with women artisans in two villages in Assam. They women are generational weavers and are the main income earners for their families.
The principal material in their creations is Peace/Ahimsa silk (Eri silk in Assamese) that is procured from small suppliers and handwoven by women artisans. Peace silk is the only type of silk, indigenously found in the NER, that is extracted from the cocoons without killing the silkworm. The yarn is spun by hand which gives it a linen-like texture having a slight sheen. Peace silk also absorbs natural dyes beautifully, making the pure silk sarees from Arras a 100% sustainable and timeless clothing option.
With their recent launch of coordinated western wear sets made from handwoven fabric, the brand moved towards a path of making sustainable fashion fun. The pieces in the capsule collection are designed keeping in mind the balance between trendy and timeless. Making sustainable clothes wearable and affordable for the consumer is another extremely important aspect that they consider when designing a new collection. Arras is founded on the premise that the fashion industry is not just about clothes or how we look in them. It has far-reaching effects across multiple industries and there are multiple stakeholders that have to work in tandem towards bringing in radical changes. When fashion is sustainable, it creates benefits for everyone along each step of the value chain- for the massive population of workers involved in textile production, indigenous groups and the end consumer, all the while keeping our environment at the forefront.
“Sustainable fashion is important not just because the fabrics are made from eco-friendly fabrics but because it also takes into account the well-being of the workers involved in the production process along with practices that support the conservation of the environment,” says Unmana. Arras is just at the beginning of the journey and as a collective they aim to work towards the goal of a green economy and an inclusive society. As an individual, Unmana believes that fashion is also how we can represent ourselves and use our values to effect change. Our one choice of clothing affects the demand for that product and thereby the lives of those who produce it and finally our environment that we actively need to preserve.