Category: Press

Haarlems Nieuwsblad

Haarlem goes sustainable

Come to the Fair Fashion pop-up from October 5 to 28 in Haarlem. Participate in a workshop, be inspired by local sustainable entrepreneurs and come and exchange clothes. Want to get started? There are plenty of workshops for adults and children: learn to repair broken clothes, design your own bag and make something new from old tablecloths and shirts. Sustainable entrepreneurs from the city and municipality of Haarlem help you make more sustainable choices and extend the lifespan of your clothing. Visiting the pop-up and participating in the activities are free.

Swapping clothes, workshops, exhibitions and sustainable tips

Fair fashion pop-up


Every year we throw away a million kilos of clothing in Haarlem. A large part of this is processed as raw material for new textiles or reused as second-hand clothing. During the Fair Fashion pop-up, attention will be paid to reuse, recycling, repair and upcycling. Visits to the pop-up and all workshops are free. A number of activities are highlighted on these pages. The full program can be found at haarlem.nl/fairfashion

Pimping sneakers for children

Designer Helina Guleria designs and makes colorful interior items with an eye for sustainability and the preservation of cultural craft. In her workshops, children can upcycle sneakers. They learn to work with second-hand materials and design their own style. Helinaguleria.com

Location: in the pop-up

Haarlems Dagblad

More and more room for diversity in politics

Haarlem – Artie Ramsodit will make a special entrance to the Senate on Tuesday. During her swearing-in ceremony, the Surinamese-Hindostan wears an Indian sari, a silk cloth that is wrapped around the hips and over the shoulder. “And that affects people a lot,” says designer Helina Guleria.

It started with a message on LinkedIn. Entrepreneur and politician Artie Ramsodit told her followers that she wants to wear a sari during her swearing in as a member of parliament. Why? To show her roots. To show that everyone can be themselves. Dutch. Surinamese. Hindustani. Wherever you come from.

The only point: she still has to find a designer. Her fellow townsman Helina Guleria, who also has Indian roots, accepted. “When I read it, I thought: wow, how beautiful. This means a lot to people of Indian descent. When someone in such a prominent position – and especially at such an important moment – ​​wears a sari.”

The two women from Haarlem met each other two years ago, when Guleria started her studio. Ramsodit, who has been a municipal councilor in Haarlem for seven years, sent Guleria a message. They met and exchanged experiences. It clicked immediately. “We have same roots,” says Guleria. “That creates a bond.”

Bright colors

Guleria is often inspired by her father’s country. She likes to use the characteristic bright, cheerful colors and vibrant prints in her designs. She has been to India several times, works with Indian artisans and learned a lot about the traditional embroidery techniques.

Ramsodit’s Indian sari consists first of all of a large piece of cloth more than seven meters long, which she wraps around her hips and over her shoulder. Underneath, the politician wears an underskirt, a petticoat, and a short blouse, a choli. The short blouse is made of silk coupons from a sewing workshop that had to close its doors years ago. Guleria: “I bought a pile of silk there. Never done anything with it. Until now.”

Guleria has incorporated pieces of old sari into the blouse, using the Indian Banarasi technique. The pallu, the last meter of the seven meter long wrapping cloth, was hand painted by Guleria. Silk painting is an ancient technique originating from the Indian region of Bihar, where Ramsodit’s ancestors lived.

Between 1873 and 1916, thousands of Indian contract workers came to Suriname. They had to replace the slaves declared free in 1863 on the plantations. This year the Hindustani community commemorates 150 years of immigration.


With the sari, Ramsodit and Guleria hope to show that everyone can be themselves. Also in politics. Regardless of origin, religion or culture. “In recent years, you have slowly seen a shift taking place,” says Guleria. “There is more and more room for diversity in politics. If it’s up to me, it can’t go fast enough.”

Haarlems Dagblad

In the breach for the preservation of traditional Indian working methods

Fashion designer Helina Guleria ambitious and combative

As a child, Helina Guleria (37) from Haarlem was a creative centipede. It was therefore no surprise that the half Indian now works as a fashion designer. In her work she is inspired by the land of scents and colors and shows herself to be combative when it comes to sustainability and the preservation of traditional Indian working methods.

“Western fashion is boring”, says Guleria, “The Dutch should be a bit more daring in their clothing choices.” The fashion designer likes to use bright, cheerful colors and lively prints in her own designs. The different influences of her Indian roots are clearly visible.

As a young girl, Guleria was fond of drawing. At HAVO she came into contact with textile working methods, after which it soon became clear that she wanted to follow a fashion education. “I really liked the combination of textiles and drawing. Designs really come to life with textiles. I could express myself in it and knew that I wanted to continue in this.”

She pursued a bachelor’s degree at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) and did an internship in India in the final year of her studies. For seven months she took a look behind the scenes at Manish Arora, a fashion designer from New Delhi who among other things, became famous for his work at the French fashion house Paco Robanne.

Indian craft

A world opens up for Guleria. “I had been to India many times before, but this trip really changed my view on fashion. It was in India when I was really introduced to traditional Indian embroidery techniques for the first time. That is very special, because it is a craft that we as Westerners do not know. These techniques are learned from an early age and passed on from generation to generation. Entire careers have been devoted to them.” Has she now mastered these techniques herself? “Not like they can do it. If it’s not taught to you, you’ll not be able to make the same quality product.”

Inspired, Guleria returns to the Netherlands and starts working in the business world. She works for various fashion brands, but she still has the itch to continue her education. That is why she takes the plunge and gets admission for the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London. She is accepted, following in the footsteps of fashion icon Alexander McQueen and designer Stella McCartney, who attended the same school. Yet the fashion education does not turn out to be what Guleria hoped for.

She loses herself. “It’s a very good school, but I had such a preference for the craft and I saw that element too little in the course I followed – MA Design for Textile Futures – I could no longer make the combination with my own style, which made me lose the essence of who I am and what I stand for. It just didn’t rhyme anymore. Because I believe that you have to do something which is close to you, I decided to stop.”

“Ancient craft has been passed on for generations, but there is no successor”


Back in the Netherlands, she ends up in the business world again, but in 2019 the fashion designer makes a trip to India, which makes her think a lot. She enters into conversation with an Indian master craftsman who masters a traditional painting technique. “That age-old technique is once again passed on from parent to child, but he told me that he has no successor. The new generation does not learn it because it no longer pays enough today. So they do not take over and the craft is slowly disappearing. When I heard that, I was very shocked. I think that’s really bad: that just shouldn’t happen.”

The crafts are also intangible cultural heritage. “Behind every craft there is a story,” says Guleria. “For example, each Indian province has its own craft. Judging by the traditional clothing which the population wears or the products that are used, it can be determined from which province they come. The craft can therefore also be seen as a language that is spoken between the different provinces.”

Kantha One of the crafts Guleria wants to use in her products is Kantha: an Indian technique where old saris are stacked on top of each other and sewn together by hand. For example, plaids are made from old saris. Kantha is therefore a working method in which recycling and upcycling are central.

The idea that ancient craft techniques are slowly being lost, hurts Guleria. So she takes matters into her own hands and starts her own brand. “I want to sell products that use traditional Indian working methods. I want to have these products, such as pillows and bedspreads, produced by local craftsmen. In this way a revenue model is created for them and the craft remains alive.”

In addition, Guleria’s business plan is a counter to the polluting fashion industry. “Mass production is not only unsustainable, but it also ensures that there is no more inspiration in creating things. That is why I want to capture on film the process of product making. By means of a QR code the consumer sees how, where and by whom the product he or she buys is made. I hope transparency will increase awareness.”

Guleria seems to have found her way. “Although you conform to the company you work for, in business the match has not always been there. But in this work I can express my personal sty­le. Moreover, it is satisfying. Craft is more than just a technique: there’s a lot of symbolism behind it and I hope that lasts for a long time.”

“The Dutch should show a little more guts in their clothing choices”

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