10 Apr 2022
Barcelona, Spain
Sustainable Textiles and Clothing

Back in 2015, having discovered her passion for Indian dance, Spaniard Leonor Tarradas conceived an intriguing project. Why not bring the vibrant, colourful costumes made famous by India’s dancers to a wider audience? On her side, Tarradas had her master’s degree in fashion design, as well as the practical experience of making Indian dance outfits for her local troupe. From the very outset, Tarradas’ studies primed her to keep the environment front of mind. “I was already very aware of the importance of designing in a sustainable way,” she explained.

The journey has led to Estudio Varali, a sustainable label that brings together Tarradas’ passions for fashion, art, and dance. Estudio Varali focuses on producing accessories and printed textiles inspired by Tarradas’ fascination with Indian dance culture. While the project has encountered some setbacks – not least, the COVID-19 pandemic and a full-throttle re-entry to dancing life – Estudio Varali is now moving full steam ahead. “I want to bring people closer to my recycling techniques in an original and creative way,” said Tarradas.

While completing her graduate studies, Tarradas became drawn into the world of Indian dance. Unsurprisingly, her local dance group Varali charged Tarradas, the fashionista, with making traditional Indian dance costumes for the members. As her labour of love went on, Tarradas eyed an opportunity. “Little by little, I was creating a good wardrobe of [leftover] fabric scraps from the costumes,” she remembered.

Those stray fashion cast-offs, which would otherwise have gone to waste, formed the basis for Estudio Varali’s concept: using recycled materials to craft Indian-inspired fashion accessories. In addition, Tarradas started looking beyond her dance partners, towards a far wider audience. “(The fabrics) were so beautiful that my wish was that people who were not involved in dance could enjoy (them) as much as I did,” she enthused.

Borrowing the dance group’s name, Tarradas established Estudio Varali. She engaged Nia Dana as the company’s jeweller, responsible for crafting accessories from sustainably sourced silver. Tarradas herself handles lead creative and design duties.

Before long, Estudio Varali started appearing at design markets around Barcelona. From this launching point, Estudio Varali has developed links in Madrid, where the Ecoembes-organised recycling market has also welcomed the company’s products and sustainable mission. In parallel, Tarradas hosts textile accessories workshops that allow customers and members of the public to learn more about producing beautiful clothes sustainably.

Tarradas’ various passions have not always co-existed so harmoniously. In 2018, she placed the Estudio Varali project on hold in order to focus her energies on Indian dance. When the COVID-19 pandemic arrvied, however, Tarradas could no longer dance with her colleagues at Varali. This unexpected twist re-focused Tarradas’ attention on Estudio Varali once more.

“The pandemic changed everything and the spark resurfaced in me to resume the project I believed in,” she said. “But, this time, I wanted more than just costume remnants to form part of the brand.”

At present, Estudio Varali primarily makes handmade earrings with leftover materials from textile production. The company receives leftover materials from María Roch, miu sutin, Marabara and Anula – all sustainable brands that appreciate the value of Estudio Varali’s work.

For anyone wanting to join Estudio Varali’s circular economy contributions, Tarradas has some simple advice.

“I would tell them to be patient, to believe in their idea and values – even on the most difficult days – and to both invest and work for their dream.”


Learn more about Estudio Varali through the website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Estudio Varali

David Wood is a freelance writer and researcher based in Beirut. He previously worked in Cairo.David Wood
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