If you’re looking for proof that magic exists then Kimaya’s ethical elegance will suit you.
After more than a decade working on fashion planet aka Paris, Anne-Sophie Planet swapped city life for southern India to realise her dreams as a designer.
Following her intuition, she landed in the international sustainable township of Auroville and created her eco-conscious fashion brand Kimaya.
Sitting somewhere between the forest and the ocean, Anne-Sophie writes to me – sitting somewhere between London’s Holland Park and Portobello Road – and through the wizardry of the web we realise that we both believe in magic.
“I just followed my heart. It was maybe the first and only time of my life where I had almost no expectations. I was really in the moment. Discovering, meeting new people, resting, enjoying life, taking care of myself.”
The first collection has the carefree kindness of a globe-trotting woman that is as interested in others as she is independent. Anne-Sophie wants Kimaya to bring out the best in you: the authentic. Naturally cool in organic cotton, banana silk and tencel with respect for ancient print techniques, handloom, dyes from roots, nuts, flowers and fruits, and for mother earth herself.
UNESCO has protected the township of Auroville since its birth in 1968 and today over forty nations from all age groups, social classes and cultures make up around 2500 residents. It is recognised as the first and only ongoing experiment in human unity and transformation of consciousness.
Sometimes, without realising it, we live life like we’re stuck on repeat, so what advice would she give herself on arrival in India, knowing what she knows now?
“My advice would be to enjoy even more every minute of this time because living in the flow without thinking of tomorrow is precious.”
Revived with essential values: co-creation, respect for people, connection with nature and simplicity of life, she was ready to create her brand. All of the fabrics are from India, and mostly from southern India as she is keen to keep Kimaya as local as possible.
“We are so lucky to have this cultural diversity here and so many skilled people,” says Anne-Sophie who collaborates with Aurovilian artisans from India, Germany, France, Switzerland, the US and the UK. “Auroville is a laboratory, where we all experiment and learn how to grow individually and collectively. That’s unending education.”
She is aware of the part she plays as both designer and consumer. She spent the majority of her time in Paris working for small, humane designer labels, but also did a three year stint with a mass market brand.
“I have been to factories in China, India, Bangladesh, North Africa, Turkey… Always more, faster and cheaper! I was part of the play. But in a way, we are all part of the play because we are all consumers. We often hear ‘shopping is voting’ and it is true because as the final consumer, we have the last word. If we become more conscious about the way we consume and what we consume, things will change. Not only regarding fashion.”
Kimaya is designed to challenge the idea of shopping as a mindless occupation, and to encourage us to re-evaluate the relationship society has with clothing. If shopping is voting then don’t we all have the right and duty to choose consciously and express the power of the purse?
“Of course sometimes it is challenging but it is worth the work for making a change and manifesting something. I feel grateful to be part of this adventure in constant progress, to have the possibility to do what I love most and to evolve with people from so many countries, cultures and backgrounds,” says Anne-Sophie.
A real change in fashion may take more than one miracle – the meaning of Kimaya in Sanskrit – but I do believe in magic, do you?
Not putting words in your mouth, but I do love this indigo batik ‘oui’ tee.
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[And don’t miss adorable accessories like the notebooks covered with misprints from the floor of a local screen-printing workshop]
©Photographs courtesy of Kimaya