Fashion director Shelly Vella in the green room with Dilli Grey

Each week we celebrate a brand committed to implementing practices that won’t cost the earth whilst still delivering beautiful, timeless pieces. This week we’re getting ready for a sun-drenched summer with Dilli Grey.

Mia ruffle linen dress, £149, Dilli Grey

A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to travel around India visiting a handful of traditional textile houses. In Jaipur, I visited one such place where I watched as beautiful fabrics were created using carved wooden blocks expertly dipped in dye then carefully placed on the fabric. It was a slow, methodical process and inspiring to watch as the artisan making the fabric was in his 70s and had been doing this his entire life. His skill and pride in the finished, hand-made result were evident and I’ve been drawn to garments made in this traditional Indian way ever since. Cue Dilli Grey and founder and designer Vickie el-Rayyes’ modern take on Bohemian dresses, tops and homewares, and of course, my ensuing addiction to this gorgeous brand.

I’m the proud owner of six dresses and one vintage Kantha kimono from Dilli, all of which have the timeless, bohemian quality that I love. The prints, colour palette and silhouettes are delicate and effortless, the type of pieces that you can dress up – whatever your style. I’ll wear a killer ankle boot with a looser style dress to give it an edge or pair a pretty printed blouse with slick tailoring for a 70’s vibe. These are versatile, long-wearing pieces that are fast becoming a firm favourite of those in the know.

Kate tiered linen bon bon maxi dress, £149, Dilli Grey

So, founder Vickie el-Rayyes, what’s the story behind Dilli Grey?

After 20 years working as a Head of Buying and buyer for some of the best-known brands on the British high street, I felt a little bored and jaded by the pace at which collections were being produced, over-designed and made. I wanted to create a brand with ethics and sustainability at the heart of everything. I am in love with India, the people the richness of the culture and the most incredible art and crafts. After so many visits to Rajasthan over the years, a seed began to form about creating a lifestyle brand with Indian craft at the core of everything we do. I am passionate about keeping the craft alive and we are proud to work with the most incredible artisans who really are the best in their field.

 Three words that sum up Dilli Grey?

Ethical, beautiful, handmade.

Faye bon bon linen shirt, £89, and shorts, £59, Dilli Grey

What does sustainability mean to you? 

I feel like many big brands make a lot of noise about making small, token gestures towards ethical or sustainable production and it really devalues and undermines those words in the eye of the consumer. It’s not actually that hard to be ‘ethical’ – it just means being kind and honest and from start to finish ensuring that every person involved in your business is treated well, respectfully and paid fairly.

If you build a business from scratch with that in mind it feeds into everything you do and just becomes the ‘norm’; you don’t need a ‘policy’ on it, or a ‘sustainable collection’ and it’s that hard-wired ethical approach to fashion, as well as retail as a whole, that I want to see more of with bigger brands in particular.

Zoe embroidered maxi dress, £149, Dilli Grey

What eco-conscious processes do you have in place? 

I built the brand from the beginning as a slow fashion, low impact brand. We are always striving to do better, and I feel that improvements can always be made. Last year we switched all of our clothing and womenswear to organic cotton, we ditched all plastic bags for shipping and instead, we now use cotton bags for each item so that our customers can reuse and recycle too. This year we have introduced more sustainable fabrics such as linen and are looking to introduce more into our fashion and home collections.

 Any particular Dilli Grey highlights?

I was so thrilled to be awarded the best ethical brand in 2019 by The Good Web Guide and more recently we have collaborated with Anthropologie on a limited-edition artisan collection of homeware, sleepwear and womenswear which has been a real pinch-me moment for my little brand that began at my kitchen table not so long ago.

Mia ruffle linen dress, £149, Dilli Grey

What is your best-selling piece?

Our current best seller is our Bianca dress in Jade green, hand-block printed on organic cotton – a complete showstopper and encapsulates everything I love about India and the artisans we work with.

Shelly’s top picks:

Soraya shirt in pomegranate, £79, Dilli Grey

Mumtaz kaftan maxi dress in papaya, £99, Dilli Grey

Soraya midi dress in pomegranate, £139, Dilli Grey 

Zoe embroidered maxi dress in rani pink, £149, Dilli Grey

Leila midi dress in mocha, £139, Dilli Grey

Go to dilligrey.com to shop the collection or check out the Dilli Grey collaboration with anthropologie.com