Meet Harsh Agarwal, a 26-year-old economics graduate from Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts, who is making it big in fashion without any formal training in designing, and using this concept of mending and repairing old textiles sourced from his mother and grandmother into a wearable piece of art. Once we glance through the designer’s work on his Instagram, we see a lot of such wonderful creations that have been created from various vintage textiles. A bed sheet set, hand-embroidered by the designer’s mother in 1985, has been now turned into a co-ord set that is transeasonal and features a relaxed silhouette.
“The whole idea came about very coincidentally. I have always been into making clothes, appreciating and sourcing textiles. This was something I was involved in from way back. I had never thought of taking it up as a full-time thing for myself. I was doing a project for a corporate house on renewable energy and waste management. In 2017, I happened to meet some people in New York who were involved in sustainable fashion. When I came back to India, I started travelling to rural regions around here and met some artisans in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and in and around Delhi to explore their craftmanship. I started sourcing textiles from all the people I met and then this idea came about where I thought of starting my menswear label Harago, bringing a very fresh perspective to Indian craftsmanship. It was a creative experiment. Gradually people started liking my clothes and I got a lot of international buyers,” says Harsh.
Based out in Jaipur, the designer operates with his weavers and craftsmen from there and doesn’t believe in the mass-production model. Things are produced on demand. Hence it becomes a more sustainable way of functioning. “We work on the approach of the textile first. We look at it and then we decide what are the pieces of garment that we are going to make out of it.” says Agarwal.
Last year, when the lockdown happened in March, Agarwal came up with the thought of using vintage textiles from his grandmother’s trunk into making exquisite pieces. “I was at home with my family during the lockdown and my mom showed me some old textiles that were there at home. My mother and grandmother used to do a lot of embroidery work when they were young. A lot of stuff which we made were one of a kind and were made from those textiles. In some cases where the pieces are torn or they needed some patch. We did a lot of mending. We are trying to promote the idea of mending cloth. It should be there as a culture. It is a sustainable way of looking at clothes. That should be the way to go forward- mending and repairing. We focus a lot on craftmanship and mending and repairing. We also reproduced a lot of embroidery on our handloom fabrics that we sourced,” adds Agarwal.