Inspired by therukoothu, designer launches new collection

“Not only because of the memories that are associated with it, but also because it is part of our culture,” says Vino Supraja, a sustainable fashion designer, who launched her new collection ‘Purisai’ and a book What is Sustainable Fashion?
Vino with LV Navaneet and school teacher Saraswathi Ranganathan
Vino with LV Navaneet and school teacher Saraswathi Ranganathan

CHENNAI: My designs are influenced by art, culture, life, buildings and even people. I was born and brought up in Vandavasi and spent a major part of my childhood there. My father supported the local arts and took me to Purisai often to see therukoothu performances. My new collection ‘Purisai’ is a tribute to the art form.

“Not only because of the memories that are associated with it, but also because it is part of our culture,” says Vino Supraja, a sustainable fashion designer, who launched her new collection ‘Purisai’ and a book What is Sustainable Fashion?

The face of ‘Purisai’

Vino Supraja, before venturing into the fashion space, was an architect by profession. After a few years of exploring buildings and structures, one of her friends working at a radio station persuaded her to try out to become a radio jockey. When that clicked, she began anchoring for several satellite channels.

Speaking to DT Next about switching professions, she laughs and points toward her husband, “Because of him. When I got married, we had to move to China. With my background in media, there was not much I could do there. I decided to take up a course and the only course available in English was Fashion and I enrolled myself in it.”

She graduated from the French fashion school IFA Paris in Shanghai, China. For her graduation, she designed the collection ‘PATANG’, inspired by the novel The Kite Runner. She began participating in several fashion contests and shows and won many international awards for her work.

Vino Supraja
Vino Supraja

“In 2016, I presented my collection ‘Buoyancy’ at the 10th anniversary of Brooklyn Fashion Week. The collection was inspired by the Chennai floods and represented the city and its people who managed to survive it together. For those who knew the story and the impact of the floods, they were moved,” she smiles.

Among her other collection of works, her collection ‘Kaleidoscope’ was critically acclaimed in the US and was also commended in leading newspapers in Detroit.

But why the change of heart to sustainable fashion? She says, “When I was pursuing my course, a professor had mentioned the evil effects of fashion on the environment. I realised how much our industry was contributing to pollution and I felt very guilty about it. I decided to read more on sustainable fashion and change my approach.”

Vino says that while trying to understand the effect fashion has on our world, she found that the books and literature available on the topic were filled with industry jargon and that a common person would not be able to understand to switch to sustainable fashion.

To make the concept of sustainable fashion understandable, Vino wrote her book What is Sustainable Fashion? She says, “The book is made easy in every way for the reader. It has illustrations, it’s colourful, handy and can also be finished in one sitting.”

Talking about her latest collection Purisai, she says, “I could have launched this collection anywhere in the world. But I wanted to do it here because this city is very special to me and has given me everything I have today.”

Pointing to one of the therukoothu performers getting ready for a performance at the launch, she says, “What is special about the collection is that the face of ‘Purisai’ is one of the therukoothu performers I had seen when I went to the village long ago.”

Vino hopes that people understand sustainable fashion through her book and make informed fashion choices.

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