Online business HasthaKatha weaves stories of Indian crafts and folk arts into western clothing


HasthaKatha’s range of hand-woven clothing showcases the traditional arts and crafts of our country

Dresses with a touch of Madhubani, jumpsuits with Gurjar embroidery, kantha-inspired wrap dresses and kalamkari scarves are the hallmarks of HasthaKatha, an online business started by Ekta Jaiswal and Divya Lakshmi, alumni of the National Institute of Fashion Designing, Hyderabad. .

The four-year initiative, which aims at slow fashion, weaves Indian folk arts and textiles into Western clothing.

Hastha means hand gesture; we want to tell stories through our handmade and personalized clothes, ”says Ekta, who had wanted to start his own brand since his college days.

Brand idea

Ekta and Divya graduated in 2013 and joined Kalanjali’s design team, traveling to Andhra Pradesh and exploring textiles and folk art. The duo were also among 30 finalists selected for a fashion incubator competition on an online portal to showcase their branding ideas. “As the online marketplace was not established in 2015, we couldn’t go ahead with the ideas,” recalls Ekta, who moved to her hometown of Delhi to work at an export house. for a year before switching to the fashion social network. Soon she decided to start something on her side.

Hand painted and embroidered pouch inspired by Kalamkari art

Hand painted and embroidered clutch bag inspired by Kalamkari art | Photo credit: Special arrangement

“Instead of mass-produced clothes, our goal is to promote slow fashion -“Jisko bannne mein time lagta hai, usko kharaad hone mein bhi time lagta hai (what takes time to make also takes time to be sold) ” and give pride of place to Indian craftsmanship. Indian handicrafts are seen in saris and salwar suit but our goal is to present it on western clothing, ”says Ekta, adding that HasthaKatha’s customers are primarily from Etsy, the American e-commerce platform.

Divya lives in Hyderabad and has left the company, but the duo are still “close friends”. Ekta transformed part of his house into a workshop / studio. “I often visit hand embroiderers, painters and block printers to work on my clothes and scarves. I can’t afford to hire them as I work in a small space, ”she says.

Jumpsuit inspired by Gurjar embroidery from Gujarat.  A design by Ekta Jaiswal

Jumpsuit inspired by Gurjar embroidery from Gujarat. A design by Ekta Jaiswal | Photo credit: Special arrangement

Speaking about how she makes her ensembles, Ekta shares, “I create clothes only in cotton and linen, inspired by the crafts and folk arts that surround me, but I prefer light embellishments. A western top painted entirely in Kalamkari or Madhubani is too heavy for casual wear and gets expensive too. Portability and cost are essential elements for the business. Not all of my clothes feature Indian craftsmanship; some are just for those who like simplicity.

Her scarves cost less than 1,000 and jumpsuits and dresses start from 1,500. Speaking of sustainable fashion, she says she only uses coconut or shell buttons and not plastic or wood. “In addition, the remains of tissue are converted into masks,” she says. Ekta adds: “With a minimum of people involved in my business, the Photoshop I learned in college helps me edit Instagrammable photos.”

Find Hasthakatha on Etsy and on Instagram.

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