Sunday, November 8, 2020

Thread Talk SG (Featured Artist/Store)

Based in the metropolitan city-state of Singapore, Thread Talk SG founded and owned by Sagorika strives to positively impact the Indian weaving community, their fast-growing global consumer base and focuses on conscious sustainable fashion so as to leave a reduced carbon imprint. What I absolutely admire about this brand is:
~ Their timeless and classic creations that are not mandated by trends but rather driven by Sagorika’s love to keep the traditional weaves/crafts alive and thriving. 
~ Not tampering with the process and age old techniques of the bountiful and unrivalled craft and textile heritage of India and yet generating innovative and fresh designs that appeal to the new-age Indian woman. 
~ Embracing sustainability through and through – be it designing, sourcing, production or their distribution practices. 
I’ve first hand witnessed the quality of work and effort that Sagorika puts into the design and making of a saree. My collaboration with her has been in the works for over a year now (yes you read that right, that’s how elaborate and labor-intensive it is!). Finally, when the saree arrived, I was fascinated to see just how effortlessly, Sagorika had managed to bring 3 Indian states together in designing a one-of-a-kind saree for me. The only brief that I gave her for this customized piece was it had to be soft silk (as I personally like fluid and luxurious drapes), an Ashta Lakshmi theme for the palla and the saree in a color other than maroon. After which she took it entirely upon herself to design and execute it.
The finished saree is the outcome of Maheshwari silk handwoven in Madhya Pradesh that then travelled to Srikalahasti in Andra Pradesh to be penned for Kalamkari. Once that was done, it went to Bhuj (Gujrat) for the Kutchi embroidery and mirror work. As you can see, none of the traditional processes were manipulated in the making of this saree. Sagorika worked with each authentic craft cluster from the original state to which it belongs.
I had the opportunity to deeply understand the workings of the brand and the thought process of its owner and designer Sagorika. I now have so much more appreciation and respect for what she does. I hope this tête-à-tête with Sagorika gives you too a similar insight into the brand and its soul.
Hello Sagorika and welcome to TECD! Please tell us about your foray into the work of textiles and drapes and your brainchild Thread Talk SG? 
Armed with a Masters degree in Microbiology from Mumbai University and a post-graduate diploma in pharmaceutical marketing, it’s contrary to my creative field of designing and fashion that I'm pursuing currently. I had a short stint in the Insurance industry before I quit to settle into matrimony and move to Singapore. My love and appreciation of weaves has largely come from my mother who has impeccable taste when it comes to sarees. 
Thread Talk was registered as an entity in 2014 in Singapore when my first born turned 15-16 months old and I was craving to do something creative whilst still being able to devote significant time to him. I had already decided I wanted to work with weaves as there were not many options in Singapore if one really wanted to explore the rich plethora of Indian weaves. There was Nallis ofcourse but that largely curated Kanjeevarams and then there were other boutiques that made cheap imitations of the Bollywood inspired fashion with nets and synthetic fabrics loaded with bling. I ached to find Dhakais, Chanderis, Maheshwari’s, Ikkat’s, Kanthas or Kalamkaris. Once I had made up my mind on what I wanted to do, I started with the branding, name, logo etc. Threads being the very basic unit of weaves that I wanted to work with and Bread Talk being a very popular chain for breads and bakes in Singapore, I took inspiration from both to come up with “Thread Talk”.
Kindly highlight what sets your brand apart from others? 
Thread Talk started out with curating weaves but now most of what we showcase are our own creations, where we have been involved in designing and execution of the particular weave. While I prefer not to tinker with original weaving process, I often experiment with different yarns, natural dyes and sometimes try contemporary designs with traditional methods besides combining 2 or more traditional crafts to create a single, exclusive piece. As a Singapore based business, we are probably the only one that works with designing traditional weaves from scratch. But even otherwise, I’d say our USP lies in how we can see many regional crafts coming together seamlessly to create a one-of-a-kind piece.
What would you say has been the greatest influence on your designs? 
I wanted Thread Talk sarees to be able to narrate stories and be conversation starters. India is a land full of stories and mythologies and symbolism, so what better inspiration than India. Also, as Indians living outside of India, what more could evoke cosy, fuzzy emotions than stories from our own land.
My biggest inspiration is India and all the thousands of stories that she holds within her. However, we are also looking at other cultures, other stories different from our own but which, nevertheless invoke a feeling of nostalgia. I Guess I am an old soul which is why I move backwards more than forward For eg: our Kantha + Batik saree featuring toadstools was totally out of an Enid Blyton book. The Poppy Kantha saree was also something that reminds you of Remembrance Day. So yes, India and the past era would be our biggest inspirations.
Please enlighten us about the design process that you adopt to create each piece/ collection?
The way Thread Talk works, it’s not possible to have one unit as these are all regional crafts and the artisans are geographically based in their respective craft clusters. So whether it’s weaving or embroidery, they all happen strictly in the craft clusters that they belong to. It would be mis-selling if not. Like I see a lot of Paithanis, Patolas, etc from Benaras. Those are definitely not authentic. We are very careful after learning along the way about these crafts and hence work with regional clusters only. For the regular “adda embroidery” and for tailoring we have separate units, other than that all work happens in original craft clusters and we take this very seriously.
I also see that you have branched out into the jewelry category too. What do you intend to bring to this section of your business?  
Though my main focus is on weaves, I have loved working with jewelry too. Like with our drapes, “wearable art” is an inspiration. Our first neckpiece was a pure silver Panchamrit spoon that we thought of as a pendant. Soon enough, I was working on a few more designs. Some involved making new ones where as others, like our Betel-nut cutter necklace just involved looking at the beautiful, vintage, artistic betel nut cutter in a different light to know it would make a fantastic statement necklace.
How would you describe your ideal Thread Talk SG woman ? 
For me, the woman who would resonate with Thread Talk’s designs would most importantly be someone who is extremely confident. She is someone who is mature and refined, takes pride in her roots and origins and will flaunt and promote them without any inhibitions. She is not someone who will be a crowd pleaser or someone who tries hard to “fit in”. Thread Talk designs are very subtle and never over the top! So it takes a woman of substance to be able to drape one without having to make a “bold, loud saree” or a more acceptable/ fashionable garment as her crutch.

What are your future plans for Thread Talk SG?
Because I have never treated Thread Talk as a business, I have never had any plans for it. I go with the flow. I just hope I can reach out to more people so they can see what we have to offer. When people appreciate the effort we put in behind creating a single piece, it gives us a high as no other. The focus is always on the craft. If people value the craft, if the design resonates with them, they buy it.
Where can one shop for these beauties?
No retails plans and no website either. I showcase everything on FB and IG and those in Singapore can always drop by to check out stuff and pick them. I’d never want to lose the personal touch in pursuit of commerce.” 

Finally, what would you say is the success mantra for a small business? 
There is no mantra! Also, how does one measure success. If I have to go by account books, Thread Talk fares poorly. If success is a measure of my happiness and sense of fulfilment, then I’m extremely successful. I love what I’m doing and in the small scale it is, I’m able to manage it as a one woman army. I often tell my husband I don’t want to lose this charm of a small, mumprenuer owned business. The day the joy of creating goes away and stress comes in, I’ll hang up my boots."
That brings us to the end of this feature and a motivating interview with Sagorika. She through her wonderful brand Thread Talk SG is here to harness the power of merging aesthetics, crafts, old traditions and ethical fashion. The interaction I’ve had with her has been such a pleasure and I see how her designs and work is an extension of her honest and authentic self. Hop onto her page and enjoy surfing their Facebook and Insta-gallery and I hope you’ll come away feeling tempted and inspired to order your own customized unique creations from them - be it sarees, jewelry or blouses.

(Photo Credits & Image Copyright: 2,3,7,9,11-Sruthi Singh for Thread Talk SG; 1,4,5,6,10 - Thread Talk SG: The images may not be used for commercial or non-commercial use without the prior written permission of Sagorika, Thread Talk SG & TECD.)