Hyderabad designer Ishita Singh joins the upcycling bandwagon with label ‘Karoai’

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Karoai by Ishita Singh turns textile waste into face masks, home accessories and bags

At the Aakruthi Vastra hosted by the Crafts Council of Telangana in Hyderabad, one of the stalls that caught attention was ‘Karoai’. Founded by Hyderabad designer Ishita Singh, label Karoai specialises in accessories made by upcycling textile waste.

“The word ‘Karoai’ is of Punjabi origin and means ‘to embellish’. Since the line of products intends to give new life to old textiles and embellish them, I thought this would be an apt name,” says Ishita, whose primary label Anhad has dressed celebrities like actor Genelia D’Souza and a host of other textile and fashion enthusiasts for 18 years.

The pandemic prompted Ishita to introspect on eco-consciousness and do something she had been wanting to do for the last few years — recycle or upcycle textile waste to create a line of products.

“I was shifting things from my studio and there were pieces of textiles that we hadn’t used for garments. I am aware of the volume of textile waste generated in the country and how much of it goes to the landfills. Karoai is my way of doing my bit,” she says, about joining the steadily rising tribe of design houses in the country that want to minimise wastage in their studios.

Ishita Singh

She began working on this line eight months ago, one mask at a time. Excess yardage was used to make face masks, with a touch of embroidery: “We donated masks to the frontline workers of GHMC (Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation), a few departments of the Telangana state government and voluntary organisations. Approximately 2500 to 3000 masks were donated. On our Instagram account (@anhadbyishita), we got enquiries from our clients as well,” Ishita recalls.

Encouraged by the support, she began designing place mats, table runners and bags in a range of fabrics available and got her staff to embellish them with laces and embroidery. At the moment, six women are part of Karoai’s workforce.

Apart from masks, Karoai designs home accessories targeting the upper middle class buyers who’ve shown keen interest in adding sheen to their homes during the pandemic: “When I was home bound during lockdown, I looked for ways to dress up my home. I noticed similar interest in others,” Ishita observes.

Table mats and coasters

The masks are priced at ₹100 and ₹150, while a set of placemats can go up to ₹2000.

Coasters made of denim fabric have been a hit with her clientele. Ishita now purchases textile waste, particularly denims, from Gujarat. Plans are on to collect old clothes locally, from friends and clients, for upcycling.

Working on Karoai has also made Ishita re-evaluate her approach for Anhad. If she cuts fabric for a kalidar kurta, the excess fabric now gets used to add accents to the kurta or the dupatta.

Hand bags, gift boxes and upholstery for the hospitality sector are in the offing. She also hopes to set up a larger production unit and introduce new products in the coming year.

(For details on Karoai, check @anhadbyishita on Instagram)

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