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    Goan designer Verma D’mello launches bespoke garments of handmade, organic Milk Cotton fabric – for the first time in Goa

    Published on November 17, 2020

    Margao, Goa: An organic, handmade fabric made out of pure milk – with exceptional properties and other organic fabric having medicinal properties – yes that’s what Goa’s iconic fashion designer Verma D’Mello is working on and has already produced a few samples.

    The Thread Up campaign, initiated by Goa Sudharop seeks to repair and restore the respect and dignity of underserved populations in Goa, fasten their grip on education, and join in enhancing the confidence that comes with learning a skill, working a trade, and providing for a solid financial future.

    Verma spoke to us, telling us about the wonderful, magical fabric: “The fabric is made out of pure milk. It’s called milk cotton and is one of the expensive fabrics in the world, because the production process is very long. The treatment of the milk to extract milk casein is a tedious and technical process and takes a long time.”

    “Then it is cast into fibre or threads and woven using hand machines. Everything is handmade. In the coloring process, using 100% natural plant and vegetable dyes and other oils rich in medicinal properties, the fabrics are dyed and cured for days. This fabric when ready is known as Milk Cotton. There are other fabrics with medicinal properties too. They are known as ‘healing cloths’ or herbal fabric, used more for health than for fashion,” she explains.

    Goa’s ace fashion designer Verma D’Mello is doing something that has never been tried in the State of Goa ever before. We think this is the first time it’s being done on a commercial scale.

    Nearly 28 women of an NGO for women employment from different parts of Goa – are working round the clock to produce the natural, organic fabric and we already have enough fabric to make about a dozen full-size shirts. Though we are focusing on new-born babies, Verma says, as the milk cotton fabric is most apt for newborn babies for its softness and comfort. It has a lot of sentimental value as well, she adds.

    Goa Sudharop is a Goan diaspora volunteer non-profit organization based in Goa and California working for the betterment of Goa and Goans worldwide since 2000, she says.

    Margao, South Goa-based Verma D’mello has already produced 7-8 hand-made outfits out of the Milk Cotton fabric which are under testing and is now working on making multiple designs for sale. The proceeds will be used to further train women from rural areas in Goa and provide them employment in my workshop, hand-making milk cotton for producing garments on a larger scale, she explains.

    Taking an interest in D’Mello’s work, the Centre for Promoting Indian Economy or CPIE India, has agreed to create awareness about the work with tribal and underprivileged women in Goa on a national level.

    “Once we have a few outfits ready, we are going to create national awareness about this product. It has a potential to provide employment to several poor women as the women can be easily trained over a period of time,” the CPIE said.

    As a designer, I have always taken up challenging assignments and this one is both challenging and beneficial to society. I call it a “do-good fabric” and it is also environmentally-friendly. I didn’t have much time on my hands earlier, but thanks to the Covid pandemic and the ensuing lock-down, I got a chance to explore this work and I am grateful that this exercise will change many lives and several underprivileged women benefit from the project. My motto is: eat healthy and wear healthy, Verma says.

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