HOME-GROWN & SUSTAINABLE: CHIDIYAA SHOWS THE WAY - The Daily Guardian
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HOME-GROWN & SUSTAINABLE: CHIDIYAA SHOWS THE WAY

Pooja Rajput traces the roots of her passion project and brand Chidiyaa to her love of creativity. A computer engineer-turned-entrepreneur shares how she strives to keep doing her best while experimenting with designs and fabrics.

Noor Anand Chawla

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The year that went past has taught us the importance of being vocal for local and adopting sustainable practices. Fortunately, a few ‘woke’ citizens had begun this crusade well before the pandemic, paving the way for others to follow. Through her homegrown brand of clothing, ‘Chidiyaa’, Pooja Rajput is doing exactly this.  

 Crafted by hand in the villages of Ajrakhpur in Gujarat and Phulia in Bengal, the label is heavily inspired by nature, sustainable practices and the ideals of simplicity. Through its collections, Chidiyaa aims to revive the art form of block printing, hand-spun and handwoven silk and linen sarees among other textile and craft designs. 

Its founder Rajput says, “I have always been creative, and I love visiting bazaars and dastakars in small villages to explore the root of traditional handicrafts and techniques. I trace the roots of Chidiyaa to my love of creativity. A Computer Engineer by education, I have no formal training in fashion, but despite the successes of my corporate career, I knew that my calling was elsewhere. One fine day, I decided to follow my passion and Chidiyaa began.”

Pooja Rajput, Founder, Chidiyaa
Model in Chidiyaa dress
Artisan

For Rajput, Chidiyaa is an emotion that communicates the beauty of life and is an extension of her personality. It reflects her love of nature, simple yet beautiful life experiences and positivity. Aware that to successfully practice sustainability one must make it a way of life, Rajput adopted eco-friendly practices from the very beginning. Fortunately, more people are realising this truth and embracing it readily. Chidiyaa’s designs encourage slow fashion, by creating high-quality garments with unique yet wearable designs that stand the test of time. Best of all, the clothes are easy on the pocket. 

“We are blessed and extremely grateful for the love and acceptance we have received from our clients, as well as the constant support of our artisans. We strive to keep doing our best, experimenting with designs, fabrics and continue being the best version of ourselves,” shares Rajput with a smile, when asked about the popularity of the brand in a short time. 

Apart from a loyal clientele that spread the word about Chidiyaa’s designs, a host of celebrities have also favoured this label. Bollywood stalwarts such as Ratna Pathak Shah, Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Tillotima Shome, and Kiran Rao, among others, have worn their designs in the past and appreciated their work and its intent. “My design philosophy is that traditional is beautiful, and I have always preferred the understated and subtle, less-is-more approach. We use very simple yet striking designs made using only one or two motifs, that reflect our vision of the earth. It comes with a relatability factor and shared ideologies that make the brand resonate with the taste of the wearer,” Rajput says with pride. Besides celebrities, the ethnic wear label is favoured by India’s swish set that wears their orientation and choices on their sleeve. Their customers include men who wear sarees as lungis, gender-fluid people who elegantly drape them, brides who choose handwoven sarees for their big day, and artists who don appealing and comfortable dresses while creating their art. To cash in on this popularity, Chidiyaa recently launched their ‘Leave the Door Open’ campaign, which highlighted unique stories of individuals from varied walks of life. “Through the campaign, the idea was to bring in hope, inspire and acknowledge one of a kind stories while showcasing that the door of opportunities and growth is always wide open. We worked with a 65-year-old female entrepreneur who started her business during the pandemic, a woman who runs a successful podcast on beer, one who started a campsite in the hills due to her love for nature, an oral historian who co-founded the material museum of memory, India’s female basketball team captain, and a drag queen among others. We loved the idea of such powerful women coming together from different fields and communicating Chidiyaa’s philosophy to the world,” shares Rajput. 

Lending a contemporary touch to traditional handicrafts of India is the USP of Chidiyaa’s designs. The design philosophy encourages experimentation with fabrics, prints and techniques. At present, the art of block printing has been their strongest medium of expression. Crediting the artisans as the real strength of her brand, Rajput calls them part of the Chidiyaa family. 

There is no on-ground physical store, yet Chidiyaa has built a loyal clientele around India and the world. They retail exclusively through their independent, online website chidiyaa.com, and before the pandemic, regularly displayed their work through various events, exhibitions and pop-ups around the country. 

The writer is a lawyer who pens lifestyle articles for various publications and her blog www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be reached on nooranand@gmail.com.

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