Now based in Brooklyn, Shradha Kochhar is a textile designer and the creative force behind LOTA, a clothing brand that makes use of repurposed textile waste. Born in India, Kochhar’s skill and art practices weave an important dialogue between style, consumption and tradition expressed in her fine art and performance work.
Recently Kocchar collaborated with designer Marshall Columbia on an apparel capsule. Previously she has designed textiles for Tory Burch and exhibited work at Donna Karan‘s Urban Zen gallery as well as Mana Contemporary.
We had an email exchange with Kochhar who walked us through her creative process as an artist and artisan. She also discussed how she adjusts her mindset in collaborations and what she’s looking forward to in 2022.
Snobette: How did your affinity for textiles and weaving start? Was it a family tradition?
Shradha Kochhar: “Growing up in India, I was always fascinated by the arts but knew nothing of them, I grew up around textiles, watching television while my grandmother knit and following my father around to cotton farms and spinning mills. All these memories were part my childhood and I believe got me extremely involved into the world of textiles. I grew up listening to stories of how my grandmother, a single parent of four, fought her way out of financial hardships by knitting sweaters and selling them abroad.
“I went to fashion school in India for my undergraduate studies where I majored in knitwear. As a knitwear designer, I felt a complete disconnect when I would knit my own fabric with yarn whose origin I didn’t quite know. Soon after, I started becoming really interested in finding the source of the materials I would interact with. I started collecting fibers from farms in the U.S. and India and building a little seed library to expand my understanding of materials, their
characteristics, origin and history.
“I started spinning my own yarn three years ago on a Peti Charkha, a modular spinning wheel that folds into a small briefcase. The process was so rewarding and cathartic. It sensitized me to the labor that goes into the making of a textile. My work also transcends into a public performance where I spin fiber in public spaces through Delhi and New York, hoping to bridge the disconnect we have to the actual process of making textiles.”
Snobette: When you create garments in collaboration like the pieces with Marshall Columbia, do you think of trend when choosing colors or you just chose what feels right ?
Shradha Kochhar: “I consider myself an artisan first and then a designer, this mindset allows me to familiarize myself with the labor that goes into the making of each millimeter of a textile. I make clothes from seed to stitch, building a seed bank, spinning my own fiber into yarn, knitting it and sewing it.
“When I work with other designers like Marshall Columbia or Ashish for example , I like to give myself the space to delve in and out of my creative practice into their alternate fantasy lands and make pieces that can live in peoples homes and travel with them over the years. “
Snobette: You have an art practice and your brand LOTA. What have you learned or are learning from doing both? Shradha Kochhar: “The artwork I have been creating for the past three years is titled ‘Of memory and Matter.’ The goal is to write an autobiographical fictional essay where I referencing intergenerational narratives in an attempt to rewrite history. The objects I create exist as family portraits, alternate tools and future heirlooms. I wanted the pieces to take up space, be very physical, be documented unlike the stories passed on through families and lost over time.
“With LOTA, I want to create a parallel economy to the mainstream fashion model. The intent is to imagine a reality where what we wear is made of second hand resources. The brand has grown from using textiles from pre-consumer waste to now include knits made from post consumer textile waste. I’m perpetually interested in fashion and the body. Fashion can be such a powerful and empowering tool for those who wear and make garments,
Snobette: Having lived in New York now for a few years do see any similarities with Delhi’s creative scene or are they totally different?
Shradha Kochhar: “I think there is a strong sense of community in both places; New York and New Delhi are such layered cities. Everyone is out and about and things move fast. They’re big cities, so it’s easy to feel alone. Having a creative and inspiring support system has been very important for me, as I moved across the two cities. Much of my work revolves around my experiences and that of those who surround me and our collective experiences.”
Snobette: What are you looking forward to for this 2022 year?
Shradha Kochhar: “I have some very exciting fashion collaborations on the horizon for early 2022: Another one
with Marshall Columbia and some that are tied under NDAs. I was working as a consultant at Tory Burch to develop pieces for the upcoming fall 2022 runway collection, It will be exciting to see when the collection is revealed in a few months. I also will be a part of an art show during Milan Design Week and a solo show in Italy.”