From wardrobes to edgy robes: Meghna Nayak's clothing brand LataSita 

A heritage-obsessed entrepreneur walks the ‘use less’ talk by transforming worn saris into fashionable ensembles with her brand LataSita.  

Published: 02nd October 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st October 2022 01:52 PM   |  A+A-

Meghna Nayak

Meghna Nayak’s ‘aha moment’ that led her to launch her sustainable, up-cycled brand in 2012 was the epiphany, ‘Use Less Shit’. The catalogue of her clothing brand LataSita has a quilted cotton base and has the slogan printed in a large patchwork font. She calls it the defining ethos of the company. 

“Use Less Shit is a pun because what we perceive as ‘useless shit’ can be turned into incredible things, with the right vision and temerity,” she says.

Inspiration dawned on the 37-year-old designer after seeing her mother’s wardrobe filled with barely worn but resplendent saris in a brand-new light. The Kolkata-based entrepreneur began to wonder about the future of India’s rich textile heritage that lies unused and ignored in the wardrobes of countless homes. She began to collect worn saris, weavers’ dead stock, scraps of fabric from wholesale markets and sometimes even puja pandals, transforming them into gorgeous silhouettes of dresses, tops, jackets and occasion wear. Priced between Rs 2,500 and Rs 25,000, LataSita is a made-to-order brand with a 45-day waiting period, and Nayak would have it no other way. 

The journalism graduate from Cornwall, England, was uncomfortably aware of the exploitative and cruel methods practised in sweatshops. It took seven years after her return from the UK to go beyond writing about unethical practices and enter the supply chain herself to run a business based on fair practices. Led by her love for geometry and an intuitive sense of bodies and shapes that would complement them, Nayak led a team of three male tailors —who have stayed with her for 10 years—to create size-inclusive ensembles. Initially plagued by an imposter syndrome that came from not having a degree in fashion or business, it took a while for her to muster confidence to put her work for sale. “Asserting myself, managing my team and their frustrations over time, while also learning how to communicate with them better was a skill I had to learn,” she recalls. Her pret line is made with sourced cloth, while her custom line allows clients to transform their own saris into popular pieces like the ‘Reversible Kimono Trench Coat’ or ‘The Let’s Playsuit’ or something new.

Nayak is “nowhere close to being a millionaire” with her business, but admits that she is happy with the positive buzz that surrounds her brand, which runs an analog life in this digital world. Her clientele is purely by word-of-mouth and she has never spent a rupee on marketing or social media. Having shown her work at exhibitions and fashion events in Taiwan, Stockholm and England,  she was also invited to Lakme India Fashion Week in 2021 to participate in the Circular Design Challenge in association with the United Nations. This journey has been her segue into teaching, having lectured on the global sustainability course at Utrecht university in the Netherlands. “For someone like me, with no fashion degree, to be teaching in schools like MIT is incredible,” she says.

Nayak remembers a time her masterji would lie to his tailor friends pretending to be working with new cloth on the quintessential ghaghras being made in abundance everywhere. “From refusing to work with old clothes to seeing his picture in the newspapers, he has come a long way and now educates his peers about sustainability,” she says. So has Nayak and she has more yards to go.


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