SInce 2003, Indian-American designer Swati Argade has featured sustainable fabrics in her clothing collections that help maintain ancient artisan traditions like hand weaving, embroidery, and dyeing. She also incorporates organic, recycled and low carbon footprint fabrics into her collections, and whenever possible produces in NYC's Garment Center.
Raised in Michigan and North Carolina, Argade was trained as a dancer specializing in the Bharata Natyam style of Indian classical dance. Shortly after graduating from college, she moved to New York and gained recognition with her twin sister for their story-dances at such venues as the Asia Society, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Rubin Museum of Art and The Kitchen. A few years later she obtained her master's degree, studying Indian film history at the University of California, Berkeley. Swati's career in fashion began as a costume designer, initially making costumes for her own performances, and then for other dance, film, and theater productions. In 2003, she launched her eponymous womenswear line, selling to specialty boutiques across the United States, Europe and India.
She’s traveled all over India sourcing items from artisan cooperatives like ajrakh (indigo block printing technique) from Kucch, Gujurat, ikkat saris from Orissa, fine muslin from West Bengal, and cotton khadi from Metpalli, Andhra Pradesh. "It became very important to me early on that my clothes had to be made with the producers and their history in mind. Their skill and participation are making this endeavor possible. The artisans, weavers and tailors are as much a part of the production chain as I am."
Swati's clothing appeals to a wide range of personal styles, blending ethnic and bohemian aesthetics with an urban refinement and sophistication. Her collections are known for incorporating hand-woven fabrics with classic and tailored silhouettes. In 2007, she launched her eco-friendly jersey line Shift by Swati made from modal printed with graphic and traditional prints in playful and easy silhouettes. In 2007, Indian retail giant FabIndia commissioned her to create a youthful and contemporary collection that marries Indian cooperative textile with the spirit of the modern Indian woman. 2010 saw the premiere of the limited edition Ticket to Ikkat line of dresses – each created from a one-of-a-kind Orrisa ikkat sari. In April 2012, Swati debuted a line of coats for the launch of Bhoomki, an ethical, luxury, clothing brand committed to creating small, high-quality collections of artisan, organic and recycled fabrics assembled in New York City’s garment district.
Swati’s work has been featured in numerous publications including Elle and the Wall Street Journal.