September 14, 2016

Walking the talk: Professor’s ambitious sabbatical project spotlights sustainability

Five of the six looks from Anupama Pasricha's R.I.S.E. Collection. Photos by BobbiLe Nadiaye Photography

When apparel design professor Anupama Pasricha requested a sabbatical, her intention was always to create a sustainable fashion line that inspires and challenges students, designers and design researchers. In a serendipitous turn of events, the Minnesota History Center approached Pasricha about lending her expertise on their “Beyond Bollywood” exhibition, including the “History Flirt” fashion show. The timing was impeccable.

“I had just finished researching the sustainable materials and vendors I wanted to use for my sabbatical project,” says Pasricha, who leads St. Kate's Department of Apparel, Merchandising and Design.

What came out of this endeavor is her R.I.S.E. collection — Repurposed. Indian. Sustainable. Eco-friendly.

"R.I.S.E. is an inclusive collection created to empower women who value individuality, diversity, the environment and well-being," she explains.

The entire "Power Suit to Perfect Patola Evening Wear" line is made from Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified fabrics from Indian suppliers, and repurposed saris from her old collection gathered on a family trip back to India. Even the thread Pasricha used was made from recycled polyester. These details matter.

“The issue of sustainability presents one of the major challenges faced by modern society. We are at a time that if we don’t change the way we do things, we will not be able to provide a healthy, livable planet and a healthy, dignified life for future generations,” she says.

More than an exercise in sustainability, the R.I.S.E. collection provided a way for Pasricha to blend her culture and her life’s passion to inspire industry change.

“As designers, employees and consumers, we have the power to drive change,” she says. “Through commitment and innovation, I believe it’s possible to manage the triple bottom line of business — financial, social and environmental performance.”

The collection’s show-stopper, “Perfect Patola,” features a dress made from repurposed ikat silk saris, lined with GOTS-certified cotton, and styled with a scarf created by sari remnants. The ikat fabric is from three states in India: Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Orissa.

“Even the garment’s name is a playful nod to India. ‘Patola’ is a slang term used to describe an attractive woman in Punjabi, an Indic language of the state of Punjab,” explains Pasricha.

Born and raised in India, Pasricha moved to the United States with her husband and two daughters in 2001. On faculty at St. Kate’s since 2005, she’s had a heavy hand in shaping her department’s eco-fashion focus.

Perfect Patola Pasricha's "Perfect Patola." Photo by BobbiLe Nadiaye Photography

Sustainability is infused at every level of the Apparel, Merchandising and Design program — from its mission statement to design assignments. Each year, juniors and seniors create full eco-friendly fashion lines.

View the collection

Pasricha's R.I.S.E. collection is on display through October 15 in the Apparel, Merchandising and Design Gallery (126 Fontbonne Hall) on the St. Paul campus.

Meet Pasricha during an Open House on October 6, 2:30–4:30 p.m. The historic dress collection will be also be open to the public during the event.

View the R.I.S.E. Lookbook

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