Weaves of the wild
Natural products made out of cork oak and banana fibre form the heart of accessories brand FOReT
The versatile, light-weight and functional bags and jewellery by accessories brand FOReT win serious style points. Crafted using natural cork oak from Spain and Portugal, and banana fibre drawn from the stem of the plant in India, each product is a sustainability lover’s dream come true.
It is a nature-first approach for founder and creative director Supriya Shirsat Satam. She experienced a soul-stirring connect with the wild during her time at the Pench National Park, Madhya Pradesh, in 2018. “The sunrays touched the leaves at dawn, as I watched mesmerised,” she recalls. No wonder then that she named her brand FOReT––meaning ‘forest’ in French.
The MBA in marketing and electronics left a lucrative job in the aviation industry to follow her true calling––design. FOReT (pronounced for-hae) brings in luxe handmade wallets, handbags, laptop sleeves, slings and jewellery, using earth-friendly fibres. The brand uses cork to turn many of their designs into chic convertibles and conversation pieces.
Take, for instance, the bracelet mini bucket bag that uses the bio-material in the form of a handle. “Disengage to wear it as a stylish bracelet on your wrist,” says Satam, adding, “People love our designs as the accessories are not just exotic; they are functional and walk the talk. I carried a chutney grinder stone inside the banana bags to test their tenacity.”
For the founder, sustainability is about circularity. “In 2023, we no longer need to push people into the idea of sustaibility. It is a natural pull for those who love our planet,” she says. The banana stems are air-dried, boiled, and fibres drawn out to be woven into bags, by the skilled hands of artisans. Additionally, they also work with women collectives and “close to 80 percent of the brand’s work force comprises women”.
With cork jewellery forming the thrust of their sales during the pandemic, Satam decided to incorporate clever detailing with the material. “The structure of the banana bags, with handloom lining within, is finished with cork-based accessories and embellishments in our studio in Mumbai,” she says, adding, “The challenge is how we can use the two creatively.”
The brand now also uses banana seeds to craft bracelets. Up next are international collaborations and retail points. “Business has grown 2.5 times since inception,” Satam says, adding, “With our focus on research and sustainability, we are hoping to be game-changers in the space.”