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Sim Sui So Organic
By Anisa Topan
We hear of organic food and organic beauty products but organic fabrics?

Leicester based Anglo Indian designer, Surinder Panesar found it a natural choice to use only organic fabrics for her design label ‘Sim Sui’. “Do you know there has been an increase in allergies to cheaper, man-made synthetic fabrics such as polyester and nylon? I’m telling you, you can’t beat the feeling of natural cotton or pure silk against your skin,” Panesar enthuses. “It’s as if we have gone full-circle as people opted for man-made, treated fabric but now more savvy and ethical consumers are aware of the processes and want to go back to basics.” Her excitability is infectious.

After gaining a BA in womenswear from Leicestershire University in the eighties, Surinder went on to specialise in underwear design for two years. It was through designing more intimate apparel that she realised how important it was to have only feel-good fabrics against the skin and as a result of this, she opted out of traditional manufactured, bleached and chemically treated fabrics and broke into new territory.

Surinder sources solely organic cotton that has grown in non-gm soil with no chemicals and as she says, “I only use the heart of the cotton ball, the mull, which is the most natural yet most expensive part of the cotton ball.” How did she find these organic cotton suppliers? “I was tipped off by several manufacturers and found growers in Nepal, Pakistan and Delhi where the cotton is all natural and hand-picked in farms where crops are untouched by chemical processes.” The dying process is also organic; Panesar gets her vibrant reds from beetroot and yellows from saffron.

She cites her main inspirations from architecture, William Morris, the opulence of baroque, the Moghul Empire and from one of her favourite cities, Paris where she frequently attends trade shows such as Premiere Vision, the biggest fabric show in the world.

Tired of the traditionally heavily embroidered clothes Indian designers are infamous for, Surinder’s design aesthetic utilises traditional Indian hand-crafted methods with a contemporary twist. Her kaftans and kurti’s have a very light ethereal quality without screaming, “I AM ORGANIC” without a patch of hemp or rough cotton in sight.

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