Brand to watch: I was a Sari

India’s iconic garment is being repurposed to drive social change

Sustainability and female empowerment lie at the heart of I was a Sari, an initiative launched in 2013 that reinvents used saris as chic products. Founded by Stefano Funari, the social enterprise employs underprivileged women from marginalised communities in Mumbai, teaching them to become artisans. Partnering with CORP India and Animedh Charitable Trust to oversee the training and production process, the scheme creates the necessary conditions for the professional education of women, giving them a better quality of life through the acquisition of new skills and financial independence. 

Since its launch, I was a Sari has been going from strength to strength, with six stores in Mumbai and more than 80 per cent of its products now sold in Italy and France. Last June, Gucci announced its support for the brand through its sustainability platform Gucci Equilibrium. The collaboration connects the Mumbai-based craftswomen with Gucci’s local specialist embroidery suppliers, building their expertise in the finest artisan techniques. 

The resulting capsule collection is part of a campaign called NOW I CAN, which aims to tell the story of each artisan involved. Each bag includes the name of its designer, hand-embroidered and attached to the personal lining. Details such as this, which connect the creator with the wearer, embody the brand’s ethos of ‘style with soul’.




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