Green glamour: Crafting a sustainable and ‘wild’ legacy, one eco-friendly design at a time

ByVaishali Vijaykumar

Published Sep 04, 2023 | 5:00 PMUpdatedSep 04, 2023 | 5:00 PM

From Geethika Kanumilli's latest collection titled Wilderness. (Supplied)

In the heart of her atelier in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad, designer Geethika Kanumilli breathes new life into discarded fabrics, weaving tales of sustainability and style with her latest collection, Wilderness.

Once-considered-waste transforms beneath her skilled fingertips, evolving into stunning ensembles that whisper stories of second chances and eco-conscious artistry.

Drawing inspiration from our planet Earth, her collection features flowy silhouettes adorned with vibrant floral motifs and a pleasing palette.

She neatly displays these creations within her boutique and some of her clients have already placed them in their wardrobes.

Speaking to South First, an excited Geethika shares, “The collection was curated for destination weddings and we wanted it to be truly distinctive. The response has been overwhelming.”

Also Read: Championing change in Chennai: Shaping ideas for our planet’s future

Small steps, big impact

In an industry where trends change as quickly as the seasons, Geethika stands as a shining example of the influence of passion, dedication, and creativity, a legacy she has upheld since 2015.

With growth and recognition, in such a short span, comes responsibility, and the designer wants to script her sustainable story by building a zero-waste brand.

“During the pandemic, I noticed the surplus fabric and other waste piling up in our production office. I decided to collect and send some cardboard boxes and glasses for recycling. However, when it came to the fabric, it seemed no one was willing to take it off our hands,” she shares.

“Every day, the fabric stash grew, with various patterns and tiny pieces left over from cutting out different garments. Some of those tiny pieces have found new life in the form of patches or were incorporated into unique blouse designs,” she beams.

Also Read: The Met Gala 2023 carpet: Why Neytt is the pride of Malayalis

Envisioning green possibilities

Geethika underscores the continuous nature of sustainability, actively seeking biodegradable fabric options.

She firmly believes that the advantages of using natural, sustainable materials far exceed any potential drawbacks.

“These textiles not only feel exquisite against your skin, but also carry significant stories, paying homage to the rich world of clothing. Sustainable fashion may seem costly due to the procurement of alternative materials and the labour involved, but it’s a misconception that it’s less glamorous,” she details.

“It’s about educating customers and helping them appreciate the value of this conscious choice,” Geethika affirms, as she strives to make occasion wear more sustainable.

Also Read: Meet the stylist behind Athiya Shetty’s bridal handloom saris

Designed by destiny

Her artistic vision isn’t hindered by limited vision in one eye.

This impairment, a result of antiphospholipid syndrome, has only fueled her unique strength. This has paved the way for a more inclusive and conscientious future.

“In class 12, I was diagnosed with this autoimmune disorder that leads the immune system to mistakenly target normal proteins in the blood,” explains Geethika.


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A post shared by Geethika Kanumilli (@kanumilli)

Her vision gradually deteriorated by half, forcing her to withdraw from her second year of college at the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Hyderabad.

“My dependency on others at college increased. The health condition started impacting tasks ranging from sewing garments to something basic like applying eyeliner. Stitching requires precision and I struggled,” she adds.

Today, none of it matters. She has made peace with her health and carved a name for herself in the industry.

“With no prior experience or a complete degree, I set foot into the industry in a 900-sq ft shop with a tailor, a helper, and my pillar; my mother. From the mode of communication to creating a business model from scratch, everything was foreign to me. All I wanted was for people to wear my designs,” recollects Geethika.

Also Read: Kerala designer wins at DNA Paris Design Awards 2023 

Of fame and fortune

In the last few years, her designs have caught the attention of celebrities such as Kiara Advani, Lavanya Tripathi, Shalini Pandey, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Trisha Krishnan, Keerthy Suresh, PV Sindhu, and the like.

“Trisha graced the Ponniyin Selvan 2 audio launch in our resplendent blue saree that grabbed the eyeballs of her fans. We received numerous requests for it to be custom-made,” she recalls.

From being featured in international fashion magazines to sharing the stage with prominent names in the industry, Geethika has come a long way. Her success stories are plenty.

“We have a steady loyal clientele because they admire the colour combination, variety in design, and a blend of tradition and modernity that our designs bring to their outlook. They simply trust the process,” she adds confidently.

A style of her own

What truly sets Geethika apart in this fast-paced and dynamic industry is her reliance on instinct. She never allows herself to be weighed down by the pursuits of her competitors.

“I cultivate a sense of tranquillity in my work. Trends often obscure your true vision; you’re meant to set them, not merely follow along,” she asserts.

Geethika firmly believes in encouraging people to explore and unearth their unique styles.


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A post shared by Geethika Kanumilli (@kanumilli)

“Often, preconceived notions stifle creativity, like the misconception that white and pastels are the only choices for dusky skin tones. I refuse to bow to such pressures,” she shares.

“While I occasionally check social media to ensure there’s no plagiarism, I stay committed to my distinctive path,” she adds.

She extends this commitment to her interns and workers, urging them to venture beyond sketchbooks, gain diverse exposure, and embrace a wide range of assignments.

“Fashion design isn’t the glamorous portrayal seen on television. It’s not just dressing up and showing up; it involves a great deal of hands-on work and constant movement,” Geethika says.

Also Read: Reviving Karnataka’s timeless tradition of weaving the ‘kambli’ 

Staying true to roots

Most important of all, Geethika attributes a significant portion of her inspiration to her formative years in Chennai and later experiences in Hyderabad.

“Chennai’s cultural richness, diverse architecture, temples, and more left a mark on me. It exudes tradition compared to Hyderabad, where the crowd is more experimental and modern. Both cities hold a special place in my heart and continue to influence my work,” she says.

Rooted in her region, she is eager to collaborate with artisan clusters, revive some age-old weaving techniques, and incorporate them in her designs.

She’s keen to make a mark for Indian designs on the global map. Some of her clothing is available at design stores in the USA and UK, and at pop-up exhibitions in Dubai.

“I admire Sabyasachi Mukherjee’s works. He has brought Indian designs to the global stage and I aspire to achieve a similar dream. One day, we all will take pride in our collection. We must tap the resources we have and globalise Indian fashion,” she signs off.

Geethika’s journey is a reminder that talent knows no boundaries.

For details, visit Instagram @Kanumilli @geethikakanumilli on Instagram or call 8008863333.