Damini Mittai and Koka: Pride of Palamaner

Damini Mittai’s Rangavalli collection for the Redress Design Awards 2019  

Damini Mittai’s hometown is her inspiration. Palamaner, in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district, is predominantly known for its terracotta artistry. “Through my work, I aim to showcase the consequences the use of land has on people; it’s my ode to my soil,” says the 24-year-old, who is one of 10 emerging designers shortlisted for the Redress Design Awards 2019. Each will work on renewable eco-fashion, and a final showcase of their collections will be held next month in Hong Kong.

Formerly known as the EcoChic Design Award, the programme is organised by Redress, an HK-based NGO that’s working to reduce textile waste in the fashion industry. This year, Mittai, an engineer by education, is the only Indian to make it to the finals. Upcoming designers Nishtha Dua and Pragya Sharma were semi-finalists.

Damini Mittai

Damini Mittai  

Rooted in culture

During an internship with a high-end Delhi-based label, Mittai had an insight into the shocking wastefulness of the industry, which turned her focus to sustainable fashion. Until January this year, she was assistant designer with Mettupalayam-based label, Kalki by K. She then chose to focus solely on her own brand, Koka, which translates to ‘sari’ in a Telugu dialect.

Her collection, Rangavalli, adheres to zero-waste design. “Old saris from my mother’s wardrobe are my primary raw material,” she says, adding that she used old lace and cut-and-sew waste as well. The colour palette and kolam designs draw inspiration from the terracotta pottery artisans. Skirts, lehengas, jumpsuits and shorts follow simple silhouettes.

Post her outing at Redress, Mittai hopes to realise her dreams for Koka, one of which is to keep it firmly rooted in South Indian culture: “I want the fabric to be sourced locally, but the appeal to be universal.”

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Printable version | Oct 12, 2021 2:40:56 PM |

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