08/30/12 - 0 Comments
Love Is Mighty Footwear
They say the greatest things in life are born out of love, and this sentiment stands when it comes to LOVE IS MIGHTY, a nuanced shoe brand begun by forward-thinking fashion designer and fine artist Monisha Raja. Raja is a vegan visionary who has worked with the likes of Tory Burch, Max Azira and Banana Republic, among myriad others, before launching her very own label in 2010.
The line stems from Raja’s adoration for animals, the planet and her Indian heritage, as well as her belief in the importance of preserving the crafts of centuries-old tribal artisans. With every visit to her homeland (following her relocation to the United States), Raja designer noticed the ancient techniques diminishing, due to growing construction and commercialization of the area. A perceived need and definite desire to preserve the indigenous skills of her people quickly became a mission for Raja, as she sought to invest in sustainability with her designs.
Raja’s shoes are full of love, which naturally led to the label’s name. Every pair is created from old world textiles by the women of rural villages in India. Her shoes are genuinely works of art and beautiful amalgamations of modern meets traditional, with a hint of vintage. For her latest line, heels and flats are woven from salvaged biscuit wrappers. Recycling and contemporary design in one! Shop the collection here!
We took some time to chat with this inventive and inspirational talent, so please read more about the brand and Raja’s goals in our interview below!
We love that LOVE IS MIGHTY has such a strong tie to your culture and are curious to know how your work has been received by the people of India?
I am known more here in the states than in India, since I have been [and continue to be] part of the New York fashion world. However, ears are perking up across the Arabian Sea. My shoes were recently featured in the summer issue of Marie Claire. I have a slowly-growing Facebook [fan-base] of young Indians. A couple of other Indian magazines are picking up the story as well. My time there is spent mostly journeying into the desert to work with the artisans, off the grid, with minimal phone or online accessibility—hence, time spent promoting my work and mission is almost nonexistent in India. [Members of] the press find me through articles written here. As for the tribal artisans, I am given a hearty welcome. I deeply value their recognition and trust.
Your footwear is filled with a variety of traditional crafts, such as embroidery and beadwork. What is the typical process that you go through in deciding what elements you want to incorporate in a shoe?
My work is primarily with the Rabari and the Jat tribes of Northwestern India. I travel into the desert and work with these artisans, some of whom are semi-nomadic goat herders. Their handwork is breathtaking. I usually spend a few days exploring motifs and different techniques and seeing what inspires me as I collaborate with them—it’s a fluid process. It is commonplace for designs to change drastically as we work together; the colors and motifs [directly influence] the final outcome. I view [the women] as artists—not mere artisans—painting dreams with their fingers and I, their collector and curator.
LOVE IS MIGHTY has such a powerful and inspiring message behind it. What are some ways, if any, that you have thought to expand the line and create more awareness?
I am currently working with handloom-woven recycled plastic and adding a more modern feel to the collection, in addition to the vintage and embroidered line. For me, LOVE IS MIGHTY is a platform for speaking about the causes dear to my heart—animals, indigenous tribes and human rights—while offering the world a stylish and well-designed product. The shoes are just a fun excuse!
When designing your shoes, is there a typical style you go for (such as flats, heels, sandals) more so than others? And, if so, why?
Albeit small, I feel my collection is well rounded, offering flats, pumps and sandals. The Fall 2011 collection includes ankle and knee-high boots, featuring the work of the Rabari tribe. If I am partial to one style, I am unaware of it.
Aside from LOVE IS MIGHTY, do you have any projects you are working on…or, perhaps, would like to begin working on?
I feel that LOVE IS MIGHTY is still a newborn that requires a lot of my attention. I can’t venture too far yet. I also see it as a broad net that covers my varied interests—humanitarianism, art and fashion. It is very fulfilling and demands a lot of my time and energy at the moment. I am looking forward to collaborating with other brands and nonprofit organizations, to keep exploring ways to grow and give back. On a different note, I long to paint again. It is my wish to find that balance again.
Can you give us a sneak peek into any new, exciting things you plan to do with LOVE IS MIGHTY?
I am really excited about my new addition to the collection—shoes constructed from reclaimed plastic grocery bags and biscuit wrappers! The artisans hand-weave the material on looms, just as textiles. The finish is a dazzling silver with vibrant specks of color and words. I am also offering tote bags in bold stripes of once heavily-laden grocery bags. I feel this is a stylish way to reduce plastics in our landfills.
If there was one thing you wanted people to take away from your line, what would it be?
There is strength in choosing love and living a compassionate life without compromising the finer things that life has to offer.