Fashion may mean different things to different people. For 25-year-old tribal woman Sita Vasuniya, hailing from Mandu, near Dhar in MP, fashion became a way of achieving socio-economic independence – with a side benefit of ending her anonymity by landing her in the pages of Vogue. 

Yes, Sita Vasuniya, mother to a 2-year-old, ended up becoming a model for Vogue when her photo, wearing a saree displaying her block prints, was featured in Vogue Italia. 

Indian Express

Vasuniya is a part of a ten-member self-help group called Dhara, made up of tribal women. These women are trained in traditional handicraft, threadwork, hand painting, and taught about innovations in the texture of fabric, design, and colour. 

Indian Express

The idea, as Dhar’s Additional District Magistrate Saloni Sidana shared with Indian Express, is to create new designs that would appeal to prospective clients across professions. 

We wanted to create products that appeal to all age groups, and women in different professions who can wear these saris in various seasons. We came up with several designs, playing around with the geometry, and also experimenting with the fabric. 

-Saloni Sidana

Dhara is one of the 3 self-help groups started under Madhya Pradesh government’s ‘Ek Jila Ek Utpaad’ scheme. For Vasuniya, and other women like her, this was a way to carve economic independence. The Vogue photo is an unexpected surprise. 

When I started training in February, I had never dreamt of being featured even in a local newspaper; forget about figuring in a premier fashion magazine. I still can’t believe it. 

-Sita Vasuniya

Her Zindagi

Now that’s what you call the power of determination and fashion!