Jyoti Reddy displaying Ereena product at NY NOW
While “free range” may not quite apply to the process of manufacturing eri silk, it’s certainly more cruelty-free than typical methods that invariably destroy the silkworms that produce it.
“It’s a non-violent process,” said Jyoti Reddy, president of the Ereena brand of eri silk products, at her NY NOW exhibitor’s booth. “Eri is ‘the fabric of peace: the only silk in the world where the silk is drawn from pierced, open-ended cocoons without harming the silkworms.”
“Normally they’re doused in boiling water,” Reddy continued. “We let them mature and fly away as moths and mate and complete their life cycle and pass it on to the next generation.”
Reddy noted that the silkworms eat the leaves of the castor plant, which is drought resistant.
“So the plant needs little water and has a small carbon footprint,” added Reddy, further noting that unlike other silk production methods, chemicals are not needed to remove the sericen gum byprodcut of the process.
The finished eri silk “is like a magic fiber from nature,” said Reddy. “It has a magical quality: It’s isothermal--cool in the summer and warm in the winter. And it has a lovely feel, with the softness of cotton, texture of linen, the warmth of wool--and the sheen of silk. It drapes comfortably and takes color beautifully.”
Ereena is based in Hyderabad, India and was launched in 2013. Its line of artisanal eri silk products--randomly dyed pillows and throws in indigo, melon, fern and ecru--are made by tribal women in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, where hand-spun and woven shawls and other garments were unique to each family and passed on from mother to daughter.
But the traditional manual manufacturing process yielded only three yards of fabric per each kilogram of yarn--and often of inconsistent quality. This has now changed with Ereena’s textile technology innovations, such that an eri silk yarn factory now delivers 25 yards of consistent quality fabric per kilogram.
Ereena now hopes to impact over 100,000 families in the underdeveloped and strife-torn state while employing and empowering the local communities.