Roopa Pemmajaru is a very different luxury fashion label. At first, womanwithdrive was attracted to the striking patterns and luscious fabrics. But what really peaked our interest was the story behind the label- a unique collaboration between indigenous Australian artists and ethical hand-woven manufacturers in India.
The label is the brainchild and passion project of Indian born, Melbourne-based fashion designer, Roopa Pemmaraju.
Beginning the process in Australia, designs are developed in collaboration with indigenous Australian artists from initial concept to finished garments, consulting at every stage of the design process to ensure they support the translation from painting to print placement.
Then skilled Indian artisans who specialise in hand-weaving fabrics, environmentally sustainable print-blocking and hand embellishment, produce beautiful pieces featuring the bold, graphic artworks.
womanwithdrive spoke with Roopa about how she started and what drives her business.
“It was difficult initially to get started with indigenous communities but I think there is always a struggle at the start of any business. I was connected to Cecilia Alfonso, community manager from Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation in Alice Springs. Cecilia supported me right from the start and helped me to develop a collection to show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in 2012. It was very successful as this is a new luxury label and is unique in celebrating the vibrant colours of the Australian landscape – green plant life formations and the vibrant desert sky.” Says Roopa.
“We are deeply committed to women artists and artisans and will always partner or work with communities to help them train, help their skills and motivate them to be independent. Every piece we sell provides royalties that go directly to the artists.
“I believe in fair trade and ethical dealings, and well made quality products from natural fabrics like silk, cotton and wool. It’s for today’s woman who recognises quality and organically made products, which is again derived from exceptional artists and artisans.”
In closing, Roopa says “The garments we make must be delightful to touch and to view and this makes a positive contribution to the lives of women – and that’ s a special joy.”
While you will definitely turn heads in Roopa Pemmaraju designs, it’s also great to know you’re supporting a business that helps to develop communities both here and in India.
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