Handcrafted does not not necessarily mean dowdy or old-fashioned. For independent artisans, the beautiful accessories they create result from a labour of love – and can fit in well with any trendy outfit.
Enter Sarla Devi, a Malaysian designer who makes clay jewellery. She sells unique rings and pendants, sculpted, put together and painted with attention to detail. They also tell a story.
“Each lovingly crafted piece retains its value and never sees the light of mass production. It is designed to celebrate and inspire the artistic expression of free spirit and individuality, ” the 40-year-old says.
“The Sarlaz range of creations are one-of-a-kind, wearable work of art. Inspired by my love for animals, nature, architecture, people and culture. I draw inspiration from my travels, as well.”
Sarla has been selected by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) as one of the 10 Malaysian brands to participate in this year’s UK fashion trade show, Pure London.
Running until Feb 11, the event offers ready-to-wear collections and fashion sourcing side-by-side. It also unites the entire fashion supply chain under one central roof.
Yet, it is not exactly the first time that Sarla had brought her brand overseas. In the past, she has shot her campaigns in London, Milan and New York. This was with the intention of making her brand more "universal".
“Milan and London were very promising and encouraging for us. Women and people there in general have flair, and thus appreciation for innovation and art, ” she notes, regarding the experience.
According to Sarla, all women should “dress to express instead of to impress”. She believes that fashion, and accessorising in general, is not complicated at all.
“Break that mould. Live life simple, but significant. Create a style of your own. It has no rules, but it certainly has a flow. Just go by the ABCs – accessories boost confidence.
“The Sarlaz woman is fiercely independent. She is the type of person who feels in charge, as well as someone who really appreciates handcrafted and unique wearable art.”
Hailing from Klang, Sarla first enrolled in an online course and workshop to learn about working with clay. After that, it was all hands-on learning for her. She also drew from her background in graphic design.
“Holding a full time position as a graphic designer for the past 16 years did not deter me from exploring the world of fashion. Upon completing my course at the International Fashion Training Centre in Malaysia, I dabbled in ready-to-wear.”
“My first time creating a jewellery piece was very challenging. It was through many sleepless nights that I kept experimenting. Now I can complete a creation within eight hours. Sometimes less, depending on the intricacy of the designs.”
Sarla explains that she chose jewellery design because it combined all the art disciplines – painting, fashion, sculpture, photography, graphic design, compacted into one dynamic miniature motif.
Her brand is currently funded by her own means. She sells her jewellery through her own website, as well as at the trade shows and other exhibitions that she participates in.
“The plan right now is to grow Sarlaz by reinventing how people wear their jewellery, ” she says. “I also want to position it as a creator of unique jewelry, and also expand to a complete ready-to-wear collection in the future.”
“I’m planning to have my own showroom and have my creations sold in fashion capitals. I believe in the intimate experience a physical store can offer to discerning customers around the world.”
Did you find this article insightful?
71% readers found this article insightful