Designer Deepika Govind reflects on her wonder fabric, Eri silk.
SHEILA KUMAR
Bengaluru's Deepika Govind, who continues to stretch her job definition from designer to protector of ancient textiles and weaving methods, talks about her experiment with Eri silk.

What inspired the Eri journey?
I feel I have finally found my true calling with Eri. The collection enables me to work upon and develop what is truly a fabric of peace. I won't say I will stop using mulberry ortussar silks but, in Eri, I have found a beautiful, viable alternative, which allows me to restrict the use of the other silks.
My thinking is simple. At a time when we yearn for peace, working on a fabric that spells peace is my personal offering. With Eri, I indulge in the inexpressible joy of creating something luxurious without paying an environmental price.
It took over two years of intensive research and experimentation to create an Eri with softness, drape and bounce that could challenge thepashmina. But we did it. The Eri (also known asendi orerrand in India) process does not involve killing the silkworm. Those who practise absolute non-violence recognise Eri to be the most eco-friendly silk. While my quest to find a silk that does no harm to any life form finally found its fountainhead, the next challenge was to turn a naturally coarse and rugged silk into a supple and soft fabric of international quality and function. We did that, too.
Balancing my two passions — for textiles and fashion — is a tightrope walk. However, I am not willing to sacrifice one for another. I don't believe that an eco-friendly ensemble should have a grunge look or dowdy silhouette. I think the style element has to be in sync with the fabric at all times.

Does this journey to the fabric of peace find any resonance with your spiritual beliefs?
Well, I am a practising Buddhist. The complete stillness in Buddhist temples has always had a profound effect on me. I truly believe it is important to have a heart that never stops feeling and never fails to be compassionate… two qualities reflected in Buddha's teachings.

Do shawls and stoles sell well in India?
Yes, definitely; today, shawls and stoles are seen as a necessity. The shawl is a perfect accessory for Indian garments like saris andkurtas, while stoles work well with the more trendy kurtis and even Western wear. Eri's thermal properties (it keeps warm in winter, cool in summer), makes it one of the finest options for stoles and shawls; the cloth for all seasons, in fact.

So how did you get here; to this point in your career?
I have never paused to see where I am; how far I've reached. For me, the journey is ongoing. However, if I must pause to reflect: the sheer love of Indian textiles has been my motivator, as also an unflinching commitment to my craft. The most important reason for being a designer is to constantly innovate, to value-add and keep growing. My own design philosophy is intertwined with a deep respect for the earth. I hold sacred the sensitive touch of the human hand, the meditative thought of the weaver, thus bringing to life the value of natural fibre, a hand-woven textile, a handcrafted ensemble.
And where are you headed next?
I aim to launch more varied products. I have some exciting projects in the pipeline; extensive and intensive research has already been done and the final samples are in process. I would like to reveal more but prefer to wait till the collection is ready to be showcased. All our collections are Limited Edition pieces. Apart from women's wear and menswear (prêt and couture), accessories, as well as allied fields of design in association with corporate houses, my latest venture is interiors.

What, in your opinion, would you characterise as your strengths?
Primarily, a conscious attitude towards work and a commitment to my beliefs. I am an eternal optimist by nature, a very happy person. It could be a movie, a book or a thought, a conversation, a colour, a piece of art, or craft… just about anything can make me happy, inspire me.
I can be painful about details. Being a perfectionist drives everyone around me a little crazy but ensures quality of output. I am basically a free spirit, not bound by any rules or regulations….except the rules that I set for myself, thus enabling me to be as creative as I can possibly be!

Do you work to a set approach? What is your design mindset?
Design is the participation of many arts. One cannot adopt a clinical approach to it. It demands your complete involvement, it consumes you. Which is just how I'd like it to be.... All my creations find a comfortable balance of Eastern crafting and Western construction. The silhouettes are often organic, with interplay of fabrics, textures and unusual colours. The handcrafted ensembles testify to my quest for perfection, my eye for detail. 

http://www.thehindu.com/features/magazine/a-fabric-for-all-seasons/article2207180.ece