When we met Swati at her Park Slope Boutique, we sat amongst a beautiful collection of apparel and accessories from around the world. On the racks, traditional Indian patterned dresses with contemporary designs were artfully displayed next to denim from North Carolina, and so much more. It was an eclectic collection that reflected Swati’s love for heritage, history, and the ethical principles she has instilled in all of her endeavors.
Swati’s road to fashion started with dance. “I was trained as a traditional Indian dancer at my Mom’s dance school,” she said during our meeting. While good (if not great) as a dancer, she found herself more interested in designing costumes for performances than performing. On trips to India, she started meeting craftspeople and discovering traditional techniques used to create the amazing fabrics she’d fallen in love with.
“I fell deeply in love with textiles and working with artisans who had woven these fabrics with age-old traditions and techniques. Handmade fabrics have a specialness to them, a human quality, a history.”
But, as she noticed, globalization was touching even these remote villages and starting to threaten the communities as the next generation moved to cities. “I wanted to help preserve these creative communities and create a market for these traditions by blending ancestral techniques with new contemporary silhouettes.” It worked. Her garments hit a nerve and were quickly stocked at stores throughout the US, India, and Europe. As her designer line grew, she saw an opportunity to bring this model to even more distant communities and develop a handmade, ethical, and sustainable fashion store that could continue to tell this story. So, she started Bhoomki in Park Slope where she not only designs and creates an ethical fashion line for her store, but curates the work of other sustainable designers who have a commitment to environmental and social responsibility.
For Swati Argade, fashion was more than the blending of style and function. Her passion for design started with her love of handmade textiles, and the belief that artisans should be respected with fair wages and good working conditions. At the core, there’s always been history, a story of the product told through the hands of those that created it and carried by those that wear it.