From sari to I was a Sari

From sari to I was a Sari

How is I was Sari made? It all begins at the vibrant flea market, Chor Bazaar (translated as ‘Thieves’ Market'). Definitely a place to visit if you’re ever in Mumbai. Here there are sellers with bundles of saris from which our team selects and brings them back to our HQ. We buy many kilos of saris every week.

In India most things get re-used rather than thrown away as waste. The Waghris, a nomadic community of India has been working in the trade for a century-and-a-half now. They travel door to door, barterering second-hand clothes for new utensils from households in almost every city. They are our invisible heroes helping Indians to reuse, recycle and upcycle!

Selecting the right saris

Our Production Team then kicks in, with their knack for selecting the right saris to transform into something new and progressive. They envisage the future for these vibrant prints and colours, matchmaking them into accessories or ready to wear.


For us this is a really important step- ensuring the fabric is both good quality and beautiful. Many have flaws- stains or thinning of the fabric. Not all saris qualify to become I was a Sari product. Once selected, the saris are given a thorough inspection and checked if the product design can work around any flaws in the fabric.

We don’t waste though: left overs are used as rags or donated to Goonj, a partner NGO to create reusable sanitary pads and other products for women in rural India.

Embellishment of the sari

With the support of Gucci Equilibrium our female artisans have entered a traditionally male world- the art of hand embroidery. In India, embroidery houses typically employ thousands of male karigars.

The Mumbai embroidery houses that supply Gucci worked with our artisans to teach them this beautiful and intricate art. Now they’re equipped for life with a highly marketable skill!

The embroidery and embellishment techniques, whilst making the product more beautiful, they also add to the number of hours the product takes to handcraft. Each hand embellished product takes anywhere between two to twenty hours of work, which means we can engage and employ more artisans.

Check out our hand embroidered products , made by our artisans who’ve learnt from the best in the industry!


The embroidered piece is then cut and prepared for sewing. Since we up-cycle pre-loved saris, complete with flaws and all, it means every I was a Sari product is unique. Out of the 5 yards of sari material, only carefully selected parts can be used. So each sari is flawfully yours!


Once cut, the product is sewn by our artisans whose skills are improving every day. They’re women who don’t let coming from underprivileged backgrounds hold them back. They were unemployed, stay-at-home Mums who couldn’t earn a living for a variety of reasons. With our partner NGOs they’ve been trained in how to make our products, skilling themselves with different techniques which are applied to make bags, accessories and our ready to wear apparel – loungewear and resort wear.

We now engage with more than 170 artisans between our two NGO partners –Karmana Trust and Animedh Charitable Trust  and we hope to work with many more women in the making of I was a Sari.


We ask our artisans : “What’s changed for you since you started working with us?”

Their answers:
#NOWICAN pay my way at home
#NOWICAN send my kids to school
#NOWICAN save up for higher education
#NOWICAN buy things for myself
#NOWICAN be independent
#NOWICAN hold my head high at home and in my community!

Read our impact study to get more idea what has changed, and what the future holds for our artisans!




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