IFP’s very first designer to feature on our ‘Find of the Month’ Divya Thomas of Karmasuthra jewelry recommended me the name of Ritika Mittal who created ‘Mora’. Now I was a bit confused as to what Ritika actually did…………..she was not the typical designer showcasing her stuff on the runway nor was she displaying the works at star studded events or on celebrities. Then why did I feature her in ‘Find of the Month’?
Well what would you do when you come to know about someone who works hard to get the best textile & handloom creation from every corner of our India, designs the collection and exhibits across major cities…………….someone who appreciates the art which is still preserved in not-so-well known places……….learning and skills passed on thru generations which are losing it’s ground in the modern world………What would you do if you knew such a Designer who was true to her root?? You don’t just appreciate such wonderful people but also apread the word about their amazing work. That is exactly what I intend to do with the creations of ‘Mora’ by featuring it as my ‘Find of the Month’
Ritika Mittal founded ‘Mora’ in 2008 after experiencing the joys of designing a saree from handloom. She started off designing for her own wedding………relatives & friends loved her designs and soon with their encouragement Ritika established ‘Mora’. Her mum Mrs. Madhu Mittal who has been her support system in this business, manages the working part of the business. All I can say is that Ritika manages to give a facelift to our traditional handloom and textile work of art.
Ritika treats the ‘Textile’ as her ‘Muse’ and thinks of her weavers as the original designers. ‘Mora’ has recieved awards at the prestigious Kala Ghoda Arts Festival’ in 2010 & 2011. It is also thru Ritika’s Faceb0ok updates that I came to know about Eri silk which is entirely humane silk yarn (it is spun from the cocoons that are broken through by the worms) & that Muga is one the rarest silks in the Indian subcontinent which is considered the “God of all Silks”. Each time you wash & wear there will be an increase in it’s lustre and longevity.
Interacting with Ritika herself via the net made me feel as if I am interacting with someone who has loads of energy flowing in her veins and absolutely humorous. Funnily even I feel absolutely refreshing while writing about something unique like this……..something which might not come my way for a long time. I am thankful to Divya Thomas for making me know about ‘Mora’ and the creator behind this label – Ritika Mittal. Hope you enjoy reading my interview with Ritika herself and the story behind ‘Mora’.
Few of ‘Mora’ creations……
Q & A With Ritika Mittal, Creator of ‘Mora’
1) How did you start off with such a unique idea of bringing rural hand woven & handloom Indian wear to major cities across India?
Ritika : More than a decade of media career takes quite a bit of toll on you… you feel far removed from reality. The textiles and the weavers brought me back to where i belong… there was an instant connect… I knew I had to travel and be a part of this rural life rather than bringing them here and commercialising the whole set up… the idea is to create opportunities in the space where they belong… why uproot them?
The only way we could significantly do something on these weaves and bring them to the mainstream fashion sectors was by adapting them in a way where people associate these weaves to the north east and also see their beauty in wearable art forms of other parts of india- sarees, duppatas skirts etc… With no precedent or pilot initiative to guide us, we jaunted off to West Bengal, U.P. , Kutch, Rajasthan and Punjab collecting Phulkaaris, Kantha, Rabari, Lukhnavi and Sanganeri weaves along the way. The collection that resulted was a playful envelope-pushing ploy to mix and match colours, textures and to see where it would get us. ‘Mora’ mixed cottons and silks for the first time, broke the rules of the color wheel and gave the textile a contemporary look. The collection was an exciting learning experience: there were gleeful successes in the collection, and a good few blunders as well! That, after all, is what learning is about.
So I learned, and sailed forth! If fabric is mora’s inspiration, then traveling to its source is the wind in mora’s sails. ‘Mora’ is passionate about tribal art, and its makers. I want to reach out and understand the spirit that makes a humble yarn come alive. We want to bring that spirit, the smell of wet earth and the songs of its dreams, to you. It is what has made India special, and we hope that by making that special something tangible to you, we can infect you with the same enthusiasm and passion for our tribal friends, to make a small, but significant difference in their lives.
2) Tell us more about ‘Mora’…..what does this name mean and why did you choose it?
Ritika : One thing i was sure from the day one of starting ‘Mora’ was that there could never be 2 similar/identical pieces that we will create… we are running into our third year and still there are no repeats in the designs… i truly believe that what you wear is an essence of your beliefs… it a complete mark of your individuality and personality… why should you wear what everyone else wears… and at the same time as a woman i also believe that all of us want to have what noone else wants… THAT something should be only and truly yours… which is why we named it MORA… means mine… coz every mora you wear is truly yours… MORA is now growing into different dimensions… recently i was told it also means “us”- could be referred to our connection with the beautiful weavers from all across the country. ‘Mora’ also means a peacock… and that we take as a compliment 🙂
3) Was it a ‘Bed of roses’ or a difficult path to start with ‘Mora’?
Ritika : ‘MORA’ had to go through difficult days but when I look back now, I feel that is what makes it so special for us… I came from media background with no knowledge of textiles… I had to start from scratch… education about textiles was key… thats where the original teachers of art- our very own artisans stepped in and taught me what no textile school could have taught… they started from the very basics and gave me some very pratical knowledge… made me sit on the looom and see how it really works… because of all this, we also faced a bit of cynicism which I think is ok now… that made our resolve even stronger… backpacks were dusted off and all the savings taken out. On the way I managed to find many friends, now it’s a struggle the entire team of ‘Mora’ is happy about.
We have braved torrential rains; lived in tribal huts built on flood-adapted stilts; to have washed clothes and bathed in raging rivers; to have shared sleeping space with pigs, poultry and, of course, people; tasted the woodsmoke of freshly foraged timber in our meals; to have lived with the unbelievable desperation of social & political neglect………. be touched by the profoundly simple hopes and smiles of these communities…these are but some of the kaleidoscope of experiences ‘Mora’ has been through as it crisscrosses India’s incredible landscapes to reach its remotest villages and weavers.
I am now gearing up for another travel and while it feels like I am going to leave home for another 6 months or so… I am filled with excitement to see how the weaves are shaping up and what new worlds will i come face to face with… [During this interview, Ritika was scheduled to showcase her designs in Bangalore & Chennai]
4) What has been your best experience so far with your label?
Ritika : It happened very recently… the best feeling is when the lovely ladies come looking for specific north eastern weaves after reading the blog… can u imagine… the names we had been screaming out to get them more recognition… are finally part of textile vocabulary of many who weren’t aware of those tribes, leave alone weaves… whew!! what a feeling 🙂 🙂 BLISS! thank you thank you thank you Chennai and Bangalore… you have been so good 🙂 :). It also feels amazing when people follow our travel stories and feel by taking mora back home, they add to themselves a slice of that beautiful north east Indian life, everyone wants to know the details of what they wear when it comes to MORA… its not something they consider “just a buy”. A lady in bangalore said, “I am taking a slice of your travels with me…”.
5) ‘Mora’ has a collection of Sarees, skirts and dupattas in bold prints, beautiful motifs and loads of colour…….what would be the next addition?
Ritika : Home furnishings for sure… I recently got totally inspired to do kids wear… lets see when that happens… some of our weaves/ kalamkaris are already being framed as art pieces… I might think about it seriously soon… think that should be good fun na? The beautiful north eastern weaves being adorned on walls 🙂
6) You have travelled across so many place with ‘Mora’…….. how do you intend to grow the brand name in the coming years?
Ritika : How we love our travels, and how we will make sure that none of this commercialization sets in our mind and working… the essence of what we do lies in this very travel where we connect with the worlds of weaves unknown… we not only build a textile connection through this, we become friends, families to each other… and thats too big a bargain to let go off. In gifting a slice of India’s many-textured heritage, ‘Mora’ remains committed to its original Muse: the communities of tribal weavers, artisans and their families, the unsung and fast-vanishing heroes of India’s aesthetic creativity. It is very important for us to see who we are working with – both the weavers and our customers – and for them to see us. mora’s family is a democratic community of weavers, translators, artists and a wonderful, growing family of clients from all walks of life and all corners of the world. Our small business is conducted through inclusive conversations over Facebook and through our blog. Almost everyone we know have come through this network we have built. Mora’s vision is two-fold: For every woman around the world to enjoy the delicious sensuality of a hand-loomed, all-natural Saree, and to create a pan-cultural community of spirited citizens who care to sustain the wondrous textile art of weaver communities around the globe.
7) Anyone in particular you would love to see in a ‘Mora’ creation???
Ritika : EVERYONE!!! :)” that will be amazing isnt it… in that way atleast we can ensure there are no more synthetics, there are more handlooms and rare weaves and textile techniques… 🙂
8) ‘Mora’ is definitely the extension of your style, but we would like to know more about you and the people behind this label.
Ritika : Of course mom and myself are there… but the real ‘MORA’ family is the artisans, weavers and the people (buyers) who put faith in them and help us continue to build this connection… we all just are a happy bunch of textile lovers and the lesser commercial we are about it, the happier we feel… 🙂 100-200 pieces a year is all we make and we put all our love into those… Mora’s family is a happy gaggle of people, young and old, rural and urban, speaking all kinds of tongues and all uniformly impassioned to the point of silliness about handmade drape and textile.
You can visit the official website of ‘Mora’ at http://www.mora.co.in , the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/MORA-by-Ritika/162981860437564 or get to know more about designer Ritika Mittal via her blog http://ritikamittal.wordpress.com
Photo Courtesy : MORA
To see our earlier ‘Find of the Month’ please click here to read about all the designers who have ever featured in this section.