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The straw bag may once have been an accessory for a beach holiday, but Stockholm-based Sofia Mehrotra is carving out renditions that transcend trends and seasons.
Image: Courtesy Sofia Mehrotra
Launched in 2017, her eponymous label treats different facets of sustainability as leitmotifs that set her apart. Be it working with craftsmen from Manipur in India or creating exquisitely handcrafted straw bags and sourcing upcycled saris or hunting vintage jewels and furniture from old Indian markets, her brand creates and curates for those interested in slow fashion.
One look at her Instagram feed will prove how seamlessly she has been blending Swedish minimalism with India’s vast spectrum of colours and techniques. Think sarongs crafted in upcycled silk, luxurious scarves cut out of pre-owned silk saris baring interesting patterns and handcrafted bucket straw bags with silk pouches inside. There are also woollen bucket bags and reworked vintage armchairs for those who love collecting antiques. It is just a peek into Mehrotras’s oeuvre which revisits the idea of re-usability through a sartorial frame.
Image: Courtesy Sofia Mehrotra
Mehrotra owes her love for everything Indian to her grandmother, who moved to Sweden with her grandfather and father. Her saris exposed young Mehrotra to bits of Indian tradition, and it was this duality of culture and aesthetic that prompted her to launch her label after graduating from London College of Fashion. You can shop the brand from The Fairnest, Doda the store, and The Maiyet Collective.
Sofia Mehrotra gave Lifestyle Asia India a complete lowdown on her journey so far.

On her creative process

Image: Courtesy Sofia Mehrotra

For every collection, my inspiration comes from different people and places. It means that a collection can have many sources of inspiration, which usually resonate in one way or another. We always create pieces taking inspiration from both Sweden and India. For some pieces, we use a typical Indian fabric, such as the upcycled sari, and for others, we use subtler colours combined with Indian handicraft and designs. There are always some design elements connected to each country in the styles we create.

On merging Indian handicraft with Swedish design sensibility

Image: Courtesy Sofia Mehrotra Instagram

Some styles such as the mini straw bags are made by hand in Manipur and have later been detailed with a small pouch inside made from upcycled silk saris. Other styles have elements of handmade details such as braids and fringes. We try, as often as it suits the design, to incorporate handicraft. For some styles, these elements are more.

On working with Indian upcycled saris

Image: Courtesy Sofia Mehrotra Instagram

We’ve only been working with natural materials such as silk, wool, and cotton so far, as well as upcycled silk saris. We collaborate with an Indian sourcing company, Green Karma. As the name suggests, this organisation always aim to work with sustainable materials and production. 

GreenKarma works with organic, BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), and recycled materials certified by leading international agencies. GreenKarma secures that all MEHROTRA products are sourced and produced in a conscious environment.

On her hero pieces

I love our wool pouches! They come with a matching scarf, which so when it’s a bit cooler outside, it is a fantastic combo when wanting to add that little extra to your outfit.

On a rewired sense of sustainability

Image: Courtesy Sofia Mehrotra

As we all know, times are difficult for many companies in all industries. Although the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t have anything to do with the environment per se, it has made us painfully aware of how vulnerable our society is, and hopefully increased the consciousness of people in general.

Our brand has from the start focused on small scale production, creating pieces that are consciously made and will last beyond seasons and trends. Focus has always been on creating a sustainable and conscious brand, which I hope will become an even more desired aspect amongst customers post-COVID-19.

On her future plans

Image: Courtesy Sofia Mehrotra

For the near future, we are focusing on our coming collection that has been postponed due to COVID-19. However, looking into the more distant future, we are hoping to open up a small offline space where we can offer the MEHROTRA customer a wider and deeper offline experience as well.

All Images: Courtesy Sofia Mehrotra

Anupam Dabral
Sr. Associate Editor
It was while studying fashion journalism at London College of Fashion that Anupam developed a keen interest in the anthropological aspect of the discipline; for him, fashion only makes sense when seen in the context of its environment. He is always on the hunt for great stories, and in his spare time binge-watches films/shows starring Whoopi Goldberg, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.