Crafted from abundance
Clothing worn traditionally in South Asia of our parents, dadis/nanis are reimagined into something fresh and relevant, they carry their stories and tender love.
Beyond: Buying new and forgetting the old
Re crafted from abundance. In a world full of fast fashion and mass-produced products, there is so much that ends up in junkyards without having been used to their full capacity. Key is to view and review the old with a new set eyes. And we set our sights on Saris!
That’s where Mae looks towards the biggest South Asian treasures - Saris! Metres and metres of brocade saris that are 20-25 years old are collected and carefully restored using non-chemical processes that take about 2 weeks. These heritage brocades are then turned into unique pieces of garments like bombers, jackets, tops, shorts, and more—giving them a new lease of life and reducing our textile waste.
Saris are, hands down, the most unique stretches of unstitched fabrics in the world! Some are plain, some full of colour, and some with patterns changing with every metre. While our mothers and grandmothers and aunties used to wear them regularly, they're not always the most practical choice for our generation. But that doesn't mean we should just leave them in the closet to collect dust and moth holes?! Mae takes a small step towards pulling these saris out into the open and re-imagining them into contemporary pieces that are perfect for any occasion. In the process, the sari is also degendered, allowing every individual to slip into fabrics of love that we inherit from mothers and aunts. Gender has No place in fashion and clothing. Thus no matter who you see modelling our pieces, remember they are designed for all. Alok Menon said it better ‘’Fashion should proliferate possibility, not constrain it.’’ And with Mae garments, we ensure possibilities are truly endless for everyone.
Bridging the Gap
Culture & Change
Culture is the foundation on which we build our future. Change is the ladder that we climb to reach it.
Our making process starts with the Wagrah Community from North India, They travel around homes in the late afternoon for a unique barter where people give them old clothes in exchange for utensils. It's a beautiful process that's been going on for generations, and we're so lucky to be a small part of it!
We source our brocades from them. What comes to us are saris worn with love, and fabrics with stories. They come to us in all kinds of conditions - some burnt, some stained, some torn, some with rust marks. But that doesn't stop us! We have a 2-week long process that's painstaking but so worth it. We clean, mend, and restore the saris, and then we test them to see if they're washable, strong, or if they bleed colors. And it’s been a long and beautiful 10 years doing this. And we’ve gotten pretty good with it!
Once the saris are ready, we get to work. We take a little corduroy here, some sequins there, some velvets too, and of course, a lot of brocade from the saris. Our team of little busy elves is constantly at work sewing them all together into one-of-a-kind masterpieces.
This waste-to-wonder policy continues with our packaging design! We use discarded plastics from our noodle packets, milk packets, rice and grain packets, etc, along with leftover brocades to create recycled and reusable bags! So your one-of-a-kind Mae garments also come in their own one-of-a-kind eco-friendly packaging.
Meet the Designer
Our journey began with Jayeta Rohilla, our founder and designer, and with her unique engagement with her ancestry. Having parents who worked at IKEA, she always had product design close to her heart. She just needed the right signs!
Having lived in Nigeria, Bangladesh, Sweden, China and India, she was exposed to innumerable cultures. Yet wherever she went, she always wore her Indian heritage on her sleeve. In the small, quiet town of Almhut, Sweden, she got her first sign. Little Jayeta always wore her culture on her sleeve, like a walking representation of her Indian heritage. Thus, she was quick to notice that everyone around her lived and breathed in the same shades of greys, black and blues. She left a lasting impression when she attended her first day at the new school in a pair of bright red bellbottoms and a sequined top! Later, when in Bangladesh, on a ‘Dress as your favourite Popstar day’, little Jayeta was surrounded by many Spice Girls, Madonnas, Britneys. But she stood tall and proud as a little Daler Mehendi! By then she knew she wanted to bathe people in colour - with a slice of her Indian heritage.
TedXTalk by the Designer Jayeta Rohilla about connecting to your creative side
By grade 10, she was exposed to a purple Valentino gown - that mixed sportswear with couture. And she knew she wanted to make clothes - wearable and high-fashion. And within the next year, she bought fabric from Laxshmi Nagar, Delhi and learnt how to sew from her friend. And oh boy, the clothes they made! By the 11th grade, she had her first show and a peek into the design world, and she was hooked. When she decided to study fashion, she chose to do it in India, against what many told her. Indian fabric, karigars and its fashion are deeply undervalued but Jayeta saw the untapped abundance of art and aesthetics here and refused to go elsewhere, always being very attuned to the fact that the roots of fashion all started in South Asia.
In college, she went hunting for her first sewing machine in Sadar Bazaar in Gurugram (Delhi NCR), and found herself in a store that shared her surname! When enquired, the owners of the store told her that Rohillas are families of generational tailors and blockprinters! This was her ultimate sign and she knew it was in her blood and she was in the right field.
Find out what some say
Meet the team
Today Mae is not just Jayeta and her story, but like an intricate brocade, it now weaves in many others into this journey. It is a sustainable, gender-less slow fashion brand that blends Western and South Asian aesthetics in ways never done before. For the longest time, it was just her operating from Delhi. Now, she leads a small team of hustling women, who are all constantly learning and unlearning in the process of building Mae. Sangeeta is her partner-in-crime, who keeps tabs on her tailor, her books, and ensures your orders reach on time. Jayati brings her expertise to creating recycled packaging for our products. Vidisha helped carve our visions into words for this website. And we now also have a small social media team to keep you updated on all our products and behind-the-scenes processes on Instagram!
And we are constantly looking to collaborate further with artists, stylists, creators, and dreamers. Looking for new projects, challenges to upcycle and recycle more - and create more art from abundance.