Scudding through the abode of clouds, comes Iba Mallai and her line of clothing, Kiniho- sown in tradition and sewed in heritage, the fabrics are a manifestation of earth and art, of passion and fashion but most importantly, of roots and responsibility.
Born to a middle class family in Diwon, Meghalaya, Iba, a fashion enthusiast is a serious and a driven entrepreneur. As she labours to get her label going, she hasn’t forgotten that the only push ahead, comes with strengthening community development.
- Hi Iba! Tell us something about yourself
My name is Iba Mallai. I graduated in BBM and completed my Fashion designing course from JD Institute of Fashion and Technology Bangalore. I am constantly enamoured by exquisite colours, traditions and art forms. My deep rooted love for nature and growing up in a community that weaves and dyes their own fabrics has triggered me to re define that Fashion is not only about wearing trendy clothes but also wearing responsibility in the heart. Responsibility to preserve our heritage and basic ethics of sustainable responsibility. With time, his immense inspiration grew in me which became the reason KINIHO was founded.
- What is KINIHO? What does it mean?
Kiniho was founded in 2016. It is an amalgamation of heritage and trend with sustainable ethics. The label creates minimal, clean and relaxed silhouettes while attempting to hold on to tradition by seamlessly blending traditional hand weave fabrics. We strongly believe in promoting eco-fashion hence the label mainly uses organic Eri silk which is naturally dyed and hand woven by the local weavers of Meghalaya and other states of Northeast India. With a mission to create a powerful modern approach to traditional handcrafted fabrics, Kiniho strives towards environmental and socially responsible method of production.
- What do you want to achieve through ‘KINIHO’?
I want to empower women by working with women weavers of Northeast India so that they can sustain their livelihood and generate income for themselves and their own communities. It is not just their bread and butter, this is their legacy as well – hence their livelihood and tradition both depend on their weaving skills. It also increases job opportunities for them.
Kiniho dyes its own yarns using mainly leaves, roots and flowers. This practice encourages Kiniho to grow its own indigenous plants and flowers to avoid forest depletion. We should not be careless towards nature and the environment. Perhaps, coming from the mountains and the hills, the awareness is innate.
- Tell us the story behind the development of KINIHO.
Like I mentioned earlier, my love for nature and community development is deeply rooted. Weaving and dyeing fabrics was something that was as natural as breathing. It was the world I came from and taking a piece of my world and putting it out there for others to see and explore seemed like the most reasonable thing to do. Wearing an outfit that makes you look good is one thing but wearing an outfit that makes you feel good, is another.
We, at KINIHO try to create clothes that are contemporary and comfortable, natural and organic. I feel blessed and fortunate that I come from Northeast India. It has so many ethnic communities with their own cultural and crafts practices. I am deeply inspired by the traditional art forms and it’s almost a challenge for me to be able to transform something as sacred as a tradition into contemporary clothing.
- How and where can we buy KINIHO designs?
Kiniho designs are available at Ants store Bangalore. Will be available soon in Mumbai. Price ranges from Rs. 2500 and above. They are now available on the Roots and Leisure shop.