‘ALA’ means waves in Malayalam. Like the back and forth flow of the shuttle in the loom, where threads create waves to form the weave. ALA Studio takes inspiration from the elegance, charm and simplicity exuded by the Mundum Neriyathum- a key cultural symbol of the south Indian state of Keralam. The grace and appeal of the subtle colour or zari highlight, contrasted against the otherwise off-white fabric pervaded the cultural fabric of Kerala- from being featured in Raja Ravi Varma paintings to traditional dance and festive wear. We at ALA studio hope to make this age-old design accessible to the modern woman through our collections as well as offering you the option of creating your dream custom saree for your special day.
What We Live By
‘Clothing made to last’, is the slogan of the slow fashion movement. In today’s world, the mindful creation of long-lasting products nuanced with creativity has never been more important. Our choice of clothes not only hints at our identity but also has wider social and environmental impacts. Fast Fashion and machine-made products are killing the vibrant handloom industry and with it the celebration of our rich heritage. By prioritising quality and small batch production, striving to reduce waste, and supporting local artisans, we launch collections that are enduring classics.
At ALA studio we recognise weavers as the ultimate lifelines of our product. In mass production, more often than not, workers have to struggle to make a decent living and this usually involves working overtime to feed their families. Sadly, whether or not they are allowed to work overtime is left unto higher officials. Unlike these conditions, our weavers are assisted with setting up looms in their homes for free and raw materials are procured for them by the society. This is especially significant given the pandemic and given we live in an age undergoing a revolution vis- à- vis women entrepreneurs and the absolute necessity of allowing them to work at leisure as they juggle work and home. Women bring to the table invaluable insights to problem-solving that in turn enhances the quality of the solution. Our pieces are proudly manifested by a women-driven team replete with skilled artisans of whom more than 90% are women.
“As we approached weavers with new designs, their heads turned towards the unsold stock”, said the founder of ALA Studio, Niranjana Vinod. “The pandemic has brought about a big drop in sales and there was a dearth of raw materials and labour.”
The hard work and meticulous skill of our weavers permeate the fabrics we bring to you. ALA studio team is determined to bring you quality and authenticity in an ethical and sustainable way. Our products are inspired by a drive to re-envision fabrics that may lay forgotten as extras or pile up as unsold stock and at the same time create a lasting clothing line that values social welfare and worker rights.
We aspire to bring forth ageless pieces that strive to bring meaning to your wardrobe. Launched during the lockdown, on the occasion of Navratri Vidhyaarambam, the Notebook Collection was an ode to teachers from all walks of life. This collection, inspired by the nostalgic notebook, was special in that it allowed one to choose the words to weave into the ‘notebook’, creating beautiful pieces of your own tangible poetry. As we are apart during these troubled times these sarees are the perfect gift for your special one with words of your choice embroidered like a shroud of love.
The people of Kerala celebrate and consider Vishu as a prayer for new beginnings. They wake up to the Vishu Kani made of the fruits of harvest representing a hope for prosperity, the valkannadi (handmade metal alloy mirror of Kerala) symbolising the Goddess and self-reflection, and the Thiruvadayada- a pleated fan made of cloth and golden borders. Pleating has been a significant part of our costumes in Kerala like the skirt in the traditional artform of Mohiniaattam. This kindled the idea of repurposing the single extras from the production surplus to create a pleated wrap skirt. The open wrap skirt is reconstructed into a fixed wrap skirt with a tie and is paired with mixed and matched neriyath (shawl).
The month of Karkkidakam marks the end of the Malayalam (Kerala) calendar. Tradition ends the year with the use of medicinal foods, Ayurvedic treatment, and the Dashapushpam (ten medicinal herbs). These ten herbs are plaited by women into their hair for wellness. The new year in the Malayalam calendar is celebrated with ten days of preparation culminating in the last three days of Onam celebration. Reminiscent of the age-old tradition of adorning the Dashapushpam, we are launching a statement-look to elevate your celebration of this month of Onam, the most auspicious festival of Kerala.
There are several reasons why the idea of mass production needs to be relooked upon. We produce 400% more clothes than 20 years ago. The amount of textile waste is increasing at an alarming rate year after year. Pollution creation cannot be ignored anymore, and this is just the tip of the iceberg of the impact of fast fashion. Many global brands are moving towards production based on demand, preventing wastage, careful usage of resources based on need. We follow in pursuit of this by offering custom made Kerala saree/setu mund (traditional two-piece garment) designs. Based on the preferences of the client, we offer to design and provide the perfect product for you.
At the Intersection of Tradition and Modernity
Fashion and identity are inseparable. Clothes express what words often cannot- our sense of true self. And our clothes at ALA studio help the modern woman express herself through traditional clothing. In our globalised world, it can be difficult to reconcile who you are with your cultural identity and our aim is to make it easier by creating comfortable garments that embrace a mélange of traditional weaving while staying true to the spirit of today.
This ongoing pandemic with escalating number of cases and restrictions pose a great struggle for the home grown labels. We urge you to reflect while choosing a product, helping local artists and businesses could go a long way for local economy growth.
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