It’s a beautiful April afternoon and we are all locked down. Covid- 19 has changed the world scenario. Never in my life, I thought a day would come when life will come to a standstill and this standstill will knock our senses in the right direction and one being ‘Sustainability‘. Nida Mahmood is locked in her house and I am in mine and we take this time to build on the narrative of Sustainability and her new collection Madam Marigold.
Brand Madam Marigold is an ode to the surreal world of a quirky mindscape. Nida is telling a story that is relevant of today. The brand is grounded to the Indian culture yet free spirited and spontaneous. Re- invention is the key and there is a strong inspiration from India’s design heritage and its people. Madam Marigold crafts contemporary design which is focussed through an ‘Eco Luxury Lens’.
Nida’s Sustainable brand believes in a holistic approach to ‘Kindly Crafted’ products by integrating sustainable practices into the supply chain. From pre and post consumer waste fabrics to upcycled textiles to handlooms, ancient Indian printing and textile techniques and vegetable dying are a few techniques used.
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I get into a candid conversation with Nida Mahmood and she bares it all earnestly. Her interview is a reflection of her life, beliefs, fashion sense and commitments. Before I begin this interview, I would certainly like to mention that I am a big promoter of Sustainability and Conscious Living. Resources are depleting, consumption is on the rise and pandemics are increasing. Home cooked food on weekends is a possibility, fashion can be conscious and life can be lived meaningfully.
When the wardrobe reeks of unused clothes, one must ask these five questions before buying the next product – 5 Questions to ask yourself before buying clothing. Save your planet, save your soul and save your wardrobe.
Let’s read about Nida Mahmood, her venture Madam Marigold and her commitment to Sustainability.
Tanya: What does ‘Fashion’ mean to you?
Nida: Fashion is a way of life- a lifestyle. Not only want we wear, but what we eat, how we decorate our homes, our point of view is all governed by what is “the current state of mind” which is simply put as ‘what is in fashion/ trend’.
Tanya: Fast fashion VS sustainability- your pick and why?
Nida: Sustainability most certainly. To survive today’s retail climate, it is very important for brands to innovate, at the same time impact the environment positively in order to safeguard the planet. Due to the shift in perspective towards nurturing natural resources, sustainability is the only way forward. It is a positive move that is fueling fashion brands like mine (Madam Marigold) to take up initiatives like using pre and post-consumer waste, upcycling, using more and more Indian textiles, finding methods of closed-loop solutions and socially relevant missions.
Tanya: Are you a minimalist?
Nida: No, I’m not a minimalist. But I like the fine balance between keeping it simple and at the same time pushing my design boundaries.
Tanya: Tell us about your latest offering- Madam Marigold.
Nida: Madan Marigold is an eco-conscious brand. One of the brand’s touchstones is Circular design, a concept inspired by the Earth’s ecosystem. We create minimum waste and all resources are taken care of. We constantly work to minimise the negative impact on the environment.
Madam Marigold works towards lower impact fashion consumption and ethical sustainability is the key factor. The brand has its heart seated deep in cultural and Indian tradition. Madam Marigold is modern yet traditional, old school yet New Age India.
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Tanya: What are the fabrics & printing techniques being used for the new brand?
Nida: The current collection employs the age old art of Ajrakh printing from Gujarat in natural colours. The process is sustainable as it uses dyes from natural elements like turmeric, pomegranate, onion peels, tea leaves, coffee, paprika, red cabbage, beetroot, hibiscus, marigold, natural indigo and the list goes on.
Apart from Ajrakh, we have attempted our hand at a 160 year old unique photography technique to expose prints on textiles and paper. This is called Sun Printing. It is an extremely tedious and time consuming technique which requires a lot of attention and care. Both the above techniques cannot be achieved without the heat and light of the sun.
Tanya: How do you ensure that the brand creates minimum waste and uses all its resources in order to minimise the negative impact on the environment?
Nida: As already mentioned, one of our brand’s touchstones is Circular Design, a concept inspired by the Earth’s ecosystem. Minimum waste is created and all resources are taken care of, constantly working to minimise the negative impact on the environment. For example, we use only natural dyes. Edibles like turmeric, onion, pomegranate, multiple types of flowers, tea, coffee etc are used to create dyes for dying of fabric as well as for printing. The waste from these processes are natural and can be composted back into the soil. The water used in the process has no chemicals hence doesn’t harm the environment. With these and other methods, the brand works towards lower impact fashion consumption, ethical sustainability being the key factor.
Tanya: How did the brand incept?
Nida: The universe is pushing us, urging us to make changes in our lifestyles and in the way we think. Being part of this environment of change, it was imperative to find myself thinking what the way forward should be given the need to find a balance with the universe we live in. We owe it to our planet. After all, we have only but borrowed some space on this planet for some time, it does not belong to us to spoil. Being aware of the need of the hour, I found myself creating what has become so dear to me. The stepwise creation of brand MADAM MARIGOLD has been one of the most beautiful, enriching and satisfying experiences. It has brought me closer to nature and made me appreciate so much more as a creative individual who has always had a penchant for the plant life. The only constant in this world is change.
Tanya: What are your favourite pieces from the launch?
Nida: It’s really hard to pick favourites from a collection that is so close to my heart. I do have a few favourites. The blue outfit below used Sun printing, the analog photography technique which is 160 years old. It needs a dark room to develop. We expose the fabric after coating it with certain materials in a dark room. It’s a lengthy 3 to 4 days process on each piece. The green is Ajrakh print which is done in Gujarat. I have manually made every single piece. I have placed each leaf myself for the impression. It’s no less than labour of love.
Tanya: What’s your relationship with clothing?
Nida: What I do is art for me. I’m an entrepreneur who celebrates art and tries to blend the gap between the two. I love my work because no two days are ever the same. There is so much variety in my work and there are absolutely no limitations. Fashion for me is that beautiful space which is hard core business on one side, and at the same time as being my vent to creativity. It’s the perfect bubble to live in.
Tanya: Three clothing pieces you can’t live without?
Nida: Currently, a pair of comfortable jeans, one of my favourite shirts from MADAM MARIGOLD and breezy summer dress, also from the new collection.
Tanya: 3 Reasons to go for Madam Marigold?
Nida: We use sustainable methods to create every piece. We are strong believers in circular fashion which means everything we use is natural and goes back into the soil with minimum wastage and minimum harm to the environment and we celebrate Indian textiles and Indian techniques. We are SEXY, SUSTAINABLE, and 100% SWADESHI.
The whole collection has 30 looks, so about 15 looks in both the techniques.
Tanya: What are your upcoming launches to look forward to?
Nida: For now I’m focusing on brand MADAM MARIGOLD primarily. It is a huge undertaking and I’m happy to spend most of my time nurturing the brand.
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Tanya: You are an inspiration to many women who look up to role models for guidance. What is your one key advice to them?
Nida: Sustainability comes from resilience and perseverance. Nothing can be achieved without focus and discipline. There are no shortcuts to achieving anything substantial or worthwhile in life so keep the focus on the eye of the fish!
Tanya: How can women instil more confidence in them?
Nida: Confidence comes when one is sure of one’s self. To build this confidence, I think it is important to be aware of one’s weaknesses as well as strengths. Both go a long way in teaching us how to tackle real problems- men or women alike. Focus on looking hard at what one is good at. Use these to one’s advantage and at the same time one must be aware of the weaknesses so that one is able to work on them. Honesty and awareness is key.
Tanya: What are your favourite 5 Fashion Must haves?
Nida: For me comfort is key. I like silhouettes to be comfortable, so a must have is a go-to dress that works for day as well as evening. I love mixing and matching pieces to create different looks. Belts create a lot of interesting variations to any dress or top. Definitely a must have. I love men’s shirts. Team them with jeans or shorts or skirts or wear them by themselves as dresses with or without a belt. A beautiful pair of shades, because you must have a beautiful pair of shades!!
Last but not The least, a bunch of beautiful corsages for my hair (always)!!
Tanya: Your one advice to all the readers of Let’s Expresso, a top fashion & lifestyle blog?
Nida: Life is so uncertain, keep it stylish guys!
The collection will launch online on Nidamahmood.com post the lockdown is over. The price range starts from INR 9500/- onwards.
Thanks Nida for these valuable inputs. As a promoter of ‘Sustainability and Conscious Living’, it is always my endeavour to bring forth such great works by designers who are taking a concrete step in the direction of minimising wastage. Upcycling and recycling are the ways ahead. This pandemic has also brought forward a lot of eye opening realisations. Materialism, excessive owning and mindless consumption need to stop. We all have a collective responsibility to save all that we have. Life can move at a slow pace and can move effectively. Greed will not take anywhere and certainly not towards a mentally stable life.
With this thought, I wrap up this interview and thank Nida for her valuable inputs. Each piece is her labour of love and she has herself worked on them intricately. I can’t wait to see the collection in person.
Hope we all cross over these tough times and come out sensible & responsible.