Bags that breathe by Anjana Arjun

Hyderabad-based designer Anjana Arjun has launched her own line of handcrafted sustainable luxury bags under the brand name, Sarjaa

Fashion should talk about important things, believes Hyderabad-based designer Anjana Arjun. At 27, the young alumnus of Parsons School of Design, New York, walks the talk. She recently launched her own line of handcrafted sustainable luxury bags under the brand name, ‘Sarjaa.’ All her products are made from eco-friendly materials such as the skin of cacti, apples and pineapples. “Because the fashion industry is the third-largest polluter of our environment and I wanted to do my bit to stem that,” says the designer.

All the raw material is sourced from the juicing industry that naturally produces tonnes of fruit-peel waste as a byproduct. This waste is upcycled with several organic compounds to produce plant-based leather that could easily last up to 10 years. The bags are not only water- and oil-resistant, but are also lined with ethically sourced eri-silk or organic cotton. Even the hardware used is made from 70 percent recycled metals. 

Besides being a family name (she is the daughter of Kollywood’s action king, Arjun Sarja), Sarja is also the name of the tree associated with the celestial star (Moola Nakshatra) in her birth chart, she shares. The tree is believed to be a symbol of a long and happy life. Thus, breathing life into sustainability, Anjana has stationed her manufacturing unit in the tiny town of Hubli in Karnataka, where her small team of 20 workers shapes the designs using organic pigments. 

Fruit and plant leather is a new domain in India and with the eco-conscious lifestyles catching on in the luxury sector, the horizons will only expand in the near future. “As of now, we are importing the raw material from South America and Europe, but are examining viable options on home turf to be able to scale-up production and trim the price points,” she shares. 

Currently, Anjana has six designs in her portfolio. Dua is a blessing in the form of a work bag as it’s a spacious tote meant to hold workday essentials, including a 13-inch laptop. Sebu, which means apple in Kannada, and is also named after her cow of the same name, is inspired by the shape of a bitten-into apple. Kala, which means dream in Telugu, is all about versatile, whimsical lines with its recyclable aluminium chains. 

Shilpi Madan for The Sunday Standard

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