Ever since she launched her eponymous label about a decade ago, Anavila Misra has been reinventing the classic handloom sari through her unique minimalistic design board. With great success, might we add? Then, in another trailblazing move, she created her unique sari-clad doll, Busa, which means little sister in Sanskrit. The first Indian designer to foray into kids’ toys, she has now launched an entire coterie of companions for Busa, which includes rabbits, dogs, giraffes and monkeys, all of whom tell tales from the Panchatantra. Leftover organic fabrics from her production are used to stitch tiny saris, salwar suits, dresses and many more.
“The Busa dolls were a small addition to our collections and were only sold through our flagship store and website,” Misra shares. The slow and constant fan following then inspired her to create ‘Busa and Friends. “It was a gradual evolution,” the Mumbai-based designer recalls. “While playing with my little niece, I was reminded of the dolls my grandmother used to make for us. The entire experience of participating in making a doll and later making clothes for her was so exciting and enriching that it made me start working on the handmade dolls, first for my niece and then for the brand.”
Why a sari-clad doll, you ask? “Young children are impressionable and curious, and for me, it is the right age for them to be sensitised to their roots and Indian textiles,” says 44-year-old Misra. “It is in no way pushing a certain way of dressing, as Busa now wears saris and dresses alike, and you can choose her wardrobe, but I really wanted to celebrate the sari through these dolls. As parents, we want to teach our children about slow play, sustainability, our culture and folktales. This collection also brings about an appreciation for handlooms and hand-techniques employed to make these playthings.”
Each of the toys is sewn and embroidered by hand, using organic fabrics that are child-friendly, natural and biodegradable. The garments that the toys wear are also washable and reusable, giving a long life to the toys.
Shilpi Madan for The Sunday Standard