Meenakshi hops on the bandwagon with Kasavu Kaftans and her sustainable clothing brand


Athira M R

Meenakshi says, “While living in Europe, I started connecting deeply with the traditional fabrics and styles of India, it was more of an emotional bond than anything else at that point. Styling my winter coats with a bright khadi silk stole at work, poetry reading, graduation or even to clubs felt like I was carrying a piece of home with me wherever I went.”  

Meenakshi (left), Summer dress designed by Meenakshi's brand 'Anga' (right) | Photo: Special arrangement

A couple of years after returning home, during the Onam of 2021, when Covid lockdowns pushed everyone into taking up new routines and hobbies, Meenakshi, an author and poet based in Kerala, designed something casual that she could wear for Onam that encapsulates the spirit of the festival. That was the birth of Kasavu Kaftans. By sourcing the raw material from the weaving communities of Balaramapuram which were adversely affected by the pandemic, Meenakshi was able to do her bit in reviving the weaving industry. Local tailors who made the Kaftans were also relieved to receive new business orders during an otherwise dull pandemic period.

Covid-19 pushed businesses to go online and following the trend, the initial batch of Kasavu Kaftans was sold through an online pop-up shop run by her friends. She then went on to establish her brand ‘Anga’ and started selling breezy summer dresses made from Balaramapuram cotton, along with the signature Kasavu Kaftans. Anga is a home-grown clothing brand that embraces slow, sustainable and inclusive practices.

Women in Kasavu Kaftans | Photo: Special arrangement

Meenakshi says, “While living in Europe, I started connecting deeply with the traditional fabrics and styles of India, it was more of an emotional bond than anything else at that point. Styling my winter coats with a bright khadi silk stole at work, poetry reading, graduation or even to clubs felt like I was carrying a piece of home with me wherever I went.”

“I live in Trivandrum, so Balaramapuram is a short drive away and it is from there I source all the materials. Each piece is stitched locally in Trivandrum by tailors in one-room shops, whom I have known since I was a child. Wastage is something that I try to minimize. I collect the left-over fabric after stitching to upcycle into little pouches or bags. For me, it is a learn-as-you-go process. For now, I am the in-house designer, photographer, and packer. Thankfully, I have wonderful friends who offer to support me through each stage of my business.”

By now Anga’s Kasavu Kaftans have been sold not just across Kerala, but also in the USA, UAE and Switzerland. Meenakshi says that her non-Indian clientele loves the thoughtful Indian designs and ease of the dresses and Kaftans. The typical ‘Kasavu and Kara’ looks is quite unique to Kerala yet has the potential to transcend boundaries, if one thinks beyond sarees, salwar-kamees and ‘pattupaavadas’.

Donning the dress made out of Kerala cotton | Photo: Special arrangement

"The key is to stick on to slow fashion and to try not to follow the fashion trends that keep changing fast. More and more consumers are becoming conscious of the impact of fast fashion on our environment. So, instead of faster production schedules and large scale production, we do the exact opposite."

Meenakshi aspires to take the Anga brand as a craft of the weaving community in Kerala to the global stage by celebrating sisterhood.

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