Journey of an outfit: The Soul dress
“It isn’t enough just looking for the quality in the products we buy, we must ensure that there is quality in the lives of the people who make them.” – Orsola De Castro, founder of Fashion Revolution
The core belief we lead by with every collection and initiative we create as a brand has always been this: that every garment, no matter where it’s made and by whom, has a story. It has an origin, a history and, most importantly, it carries the soul of its makers with every fibre and thread through its journey.
The curiosity of this journey was one of our tipping points on the road to SUI’s creation itself, we wondered often why the biggest platforms out there refused to share the story behind the clothes they made.
Because so often, that story is where the heart lies.
We’ve always loved sharing the story behind our pieces with all of you and, with that spirit, we bring you the journey of The Soul maxi dress. Encapsulating the joyful but simple nature of wildflower spirit, the dress has travelled as an idea through many blooming meadows until it finally arrived in India, its home of creation.
A natural muse
Like all our creations, the inspiration for every piece comes from our most treasured love, nature. The story of our ‘Wildflower’ collection really began on a particular road trip some years ago in sunny California where Mahima, who first brought the idea forward to our team, found herself drawn to the wildflowers blooming humbly alongside highways, seasides and in little green corners of various towns. And since then, they never stopped catching her eye and with that an idea grew to become the collection you see today.
The Soul dress particularly takes after grassy green meadows and fields that influenced its olive shade, and also the beautiful daisy, a wildflower we all know and love, which is embroidered on this piece using a mixture of machine and hand techniques.
Our silhouette story
The SUI maxi was first designed back in Feb 2020 when we were prepping for our Summer 2020 edit. We were constantly exploring silhouettes and, while travelling for Chinese New Year, Mahima found herself being inspired by the easy breezy summer styles in Australia. This led to the design of our very first maxi - The Island maxi dress.
It was loved by many so, in due time, we realised how versatile it could be and turned it into a SUI classic silhouette. We love whenever this happens as it allows a design to be brought back in many variations and grow our catalogue of timeless looks.
From fibre to fabric
Creating consciously means we need to consider every step right from the beginning. When it comes to the fabrics we choose, we always do our best to connect with green vendors who value ethics and sustainable production above all else. Supporting our local communities is a core SUI pillar that we always wish to commit to wherever we can and so, one such vendor, who we have worked with since 2019, is WomenWeave.
If you have followed our story, the name may be familiar. In short, they are an NGO that support underprivileged women, and by extension their families, in their local community in Maheshwar in the handloom industry - this means providing training in handloom skills as well as projects/work where they are valued fairly.
These skilled women are behind the creation of all our handwoven fabrics. For The Soul dress, they hand-spin organic cotton fibres - a fibre that is processed without the use of pesticides and far less water than conventional cotton, another sustainable bonus - into our much loved durable, comfortable and breathable fabric.
The process is wonderfully green and conscious with no electricity needed, just strong hands and a skilled touch which is why we love the craft so much.
Colours of nature
Another long-standing partnership we have is with our herbal-dyer, Truetone Ink. It’s always been our intention to reflect the beauty of nature through our designs and what better way than to present the vibrant hues of grassy plains, flowery meadows and seaside vistas on our garments.
However, we know it’s so important that creating these hues do not cause more harm than good. According to Fashion Revolution, within the dyeing process, approximately 200 tonnes of water is used per tonne of fabric. This water contains residual dyes and hazardous chemicals commonly used in the industry that is then discarded into our rivers and oceans. Our solution is herbal and natural dyeing in which we use plants and minerals to achieve our shades.
The deep, olive hue on The Soul dress is created primarily using pomegranate, madder and iron earth!
Flowers & form
And then, like with all our pieces, the fabric arrives at our workshop and we undergo the sampling process where we deliberated on the silhouette to make sure our sizing was accurate and motifs shined where they were placed. For this stage, Celina works closely with our Master cutter, Tahir, in getting these measurements perfect. Celina mentions “we didn't find any difficulty in terms of sampling. We only needed to use the base of The Island dress from ‘Tropical Sunshine’ then essentially just altered the sleeves and neckline, combining it with the easy loose silhouette with layering we’d already created. Tahir constructed the muslin sample perfectly in one go!”
Alongside sampling, we were also creating our various embroidered motifs that will be added to our pieces. For The Soul dress, the daisy was our pick. It has been a particular favourite this season for us and represents the traits we at SUI want to carry forward into this new year, that of joyful optimism where we are always facing ourselves towards the sun. Particularly, it was the beautiful seaside daisy wildflower we discovered on California’s coastline that inspired us to try to recreate its beauty through our pieces.
Amzad, from our small but mighty threadspeller team, creates all our hand-embroidered pieces and has worked on our consciously crafted garments for almost a year now. With a passion to learn new techniques and grow in his craft, he’s been such a valuable and vital team member, working hard and becoming more comfortable with our nature-inspired motifs as time goes on.
Celina from our design team also shares some thoughts with us on the design process to create this motif:
“We wanted that one strong piece in our ‘Wildflower’ collection that serves the purpose of why we had chosen wildflowers as our main inspiration. Ever since we saw the muslin of The Soul dress, we knew that it was going to be the masterpiece of this collection, the relaxed style, comfortable look, soft khadi fabric, all say out loud to be free, happy, and to be you, hence defining the wildflower spirit. For this masterpiece, we decided that one solid embroidery would enhance this look, that being the daisy. This one is inspired by the daisies of Himachal Pradesh that symbolize purity, charm, innocence, and love. We ended up using a mixture of both hand and machine embroidery to create it and, in the end, crafted something timeless and elegant.”
The final stages
And as we created its final silhouette, The Soul dress was ready to be seen! When we prepared our shoot, our main idea and mood for the ‘Wildflower’ look was simple, light, earthy and dreamy. We used natural light to show off the beauty of our hues and motifs, and had our muses, our favourite wildflowers, accompany and compliment many of our pieces.
We always enjoy our SUI shoots as a team and this time was no different so, here’s a little behind-the-scenes of some of the little moments we cherish as we are all grateful to share this collection with you, our green heart-ers, and hope you love it as much as we do!
In our continuing effort to share the green love, this season you may have noticed, if you follow us on our social platforms, that we have been sharing stories and journeys from other green heart-ers or ‘wildflowers’ as we have dubbed them for the season. The name felt apt as, through 2020, many of us went through a transformation, growing and learning from the challenges of the year. We’d love for you to check the stories out. There’s a lot we can learn from others’ experiences but also find comfort in similar ones, and if you think you have a story you would want to share too, do reach out and let us know! You can DM us on Instagram, or e-mail us at email@example.com.
As always, stay green and we will see you next week!