Xuara is an artisan New Zealand clothing brand whose mission is to empower craft-driven communities through the revitalization of handcrafted fashion designs. Founder Kavita Patel takes us behind the scenes of her brand as she tells us more about what inspired her to start Xuara and where she wants to take the company in the future.
How did your brand begin?
During my high school years, I took up sewing and design. This opened me up to the freeing world of creativity. I started designing and making clothes for myself with the help of my aunt. Not only was I able to express myself and my individuality through fashion, but I had created a space where I felt like I finally fit in.
In India, my grandfather had a saree block printing factory and on my visits, I remember being mesmerized by the hand techniques used to carve the wooden blocks to be printed on the fabrics. Hand embroidery is also a very common practice in India, where getting customized Indian outfits made is a very common practice. This supports local economies and doesn’t exploit labour.
Being exposed to the rich traditional processes has certainly shaped my relationship with clothes, and from a young age, I wanted to bring these techniques to everyday wear.
Values are really important to us at JewelStreet. What are your core brand values?
Our core values at Xaura are: uniqueness, self-love, and compassion.
We advocate for the appreciation and value of artisan craft. We allow traditions to live on. We celebrate handcraft and empower the people who have these gifts.
How do you ensure your designs are ethical and sustainable?
Ethical fashion wasn’t a known thing 10 years ago. While working in the fashion industry I witnessed how exploitative the business was. Work was outsourced to the East, where unliveable wages were paid and immense pollution and waste were created.
I hadn’t realized that sustainability was something BIPOC communities had been living for thousands of years by sharing their handcrafting skills through many generations.
How are your products made?
Xaura is a revival and a celebration of traditional Indian techniques, including hand block fabric printing (from Jaipur), handwoven fabrics (West Bengal and Tamil Naidu), and hand embroidery. By showcasing these skills on timeless everyday clothes that are colourful and fun but sustainable we can express culture and self-expression.
Are there any specific manufacturing/crafting techniques you use?
Each Xaura piece is made one at a time by a single tailor. None of Xaura’s workers are overworked, they produce limited numbers of pieces so that they can maintain a balance between work and life.
Tell us about some of your most inspiring clients, or bespoke commissions.
A bride who had a wedding coming up in Mexico requested a sustainably made bridal outfit that she can re-wear again after her big day. So we sourced silk that is ethically made and made a skirt and top for her that was hand embroidered by our artisans. The bride was really pleased as it was a one-of-a-kind piece, handmade ethically by artisans that she can re-wear in future.
How do you want someone to feel when they wear/use your designs?
Our brand mission is to make unique artisan-made clothing. We strive to empower women to freely express their special selves and to connect with their inner radiance.
Do you work with any charities?
Yes, we work with International Needs charity which trains young girls in handcrafting skills and puts them through a college education.
Do you have any exciting future plans and where do you see your brand in 5 years?
We are looking at doing menswear and a kids’ range also. We're looking to explore more traditional artisan skills in different regions of India that we can bring to everyday wear for international markets.
How do you ensure you’ve got a good work/life balance?
I ensure that I have an early morning start, which consists of journaling and going through the top priorities for the day. I try to do some sort of physical exercise each day in nature and do yoga to balance my mind.
How do your brand values align with those of JewelStreet?
I believe our values align quite well. We both believe in ethical making practices and give importance to handmade crafts. We believe in something that's unique and not fast fashion. Fair production and trading practices take time and effort.
Our makers are treated with respect and are valued for their skills. I feel honoured to be sharing the space on JewelStreet with other like-minded brands.
Thank you for talking with us Kavita!