Surbala is a resort wear label founded by Neha, a charming fashion designer from India. Neha sources artisans from her home country, who handmake Surbala’s collections, employing traditional Indian techniques. When I first met Neha to plan our fashion shoot, I could instantly see the great passion she has for her work, and through talking with her, it was obvious that she goes to great lengths to ensure that each Surbala piece is made with love and care.
I appreciate the way she works so much that I asked Neha to share a bit about Surbala, with my blog readers.
Me: What does “Surbala” mean?
Neha: I came across the word Surbala when as a student, I first read acclaimed Indian poet Shri Makhan Lal Chaturvedi’s famous Hindi poem “Pushp ki Abhilasha“ (means the aspirations of a flower). He mentions the word Surbala that refers to a beautiful woman.
In Hindi, technically SUR means a musical note & BALA means a young woman. The word Surbala stuck by me for a long time. And when I was thinking of naming my clothing label, I couldn’t think of more suitable name as I see my clients as beautiful and perfect ladies.
Me: How do you choose and source your fabrics?
Neha: Once I have researched and finalized the color palette & silhouettes for the next season, I plan a sourcing trip for 1-2 months where I source fabrics and develop the prints/textures/embroidery from scratch.
It’s a continuous process, taking anywhere from 15-25 days in developing a swatch of embroidery or a new pattern and creating it into a style.
Intrinsically I love traditional Indian textiles techniques and hand-woven fabrics, and I always try to support the artisans by incorporating beautiful handmade crafts in my collection.
Me: Tell us about the artisans who make the fabrics & garments.
Neha: Surbala tries to amalgamate traditional textiles from India eg. handmade fabrics like Handloom silks, chanderis etc and traditional printing techniques like Hand tie & Dye, Batik, Shibori, hand beading, applique, hand block printing from Rajasthan, Kantha etc along with modern printing technique like digital prints etc. We source our artisans through organizations like DASTKAR which provide a platform for willing designers and businesses to meet and connect with talented artisans from all over India. (http://www.dastkar.org/organisationalmap.htm)
Me: How are Surbala’s fabrics made?
Neha: Base fabrics like cotton, laces etc. are sourced and then printing techniques or embroidery techniques are applied (hand block printing, hand beading, applique etc.). Many traditional techniques like DABU (resist hand block printing technique from Rajasthan) use natural dyes for printing. For my S/S 13 14 collection I have developed a range of hand-woven Chanderi (made of silk & cotton thread in warp & weft) kaftans.
Me: What makes Surbala different from other brands?
Neha: Surbala appeals to a target market of sensitive shoppers who appreciate the ethereal quality of handmade textiles.
We also try to give most affordable prices possible to our customer in Resortwear category as compared to our competitors. We are currently working on an online format and cut down on the huge costs of rent etc. and hence can pass on the benefit to the customers & eventually pass it on the our artisans as well which makes each Surbala piece truly handmade with love!!!
Thanks Neha xx