SS '19 | The Story Of The Makers...
We rely on a number of very talented weavers, embroiderers and tailors to lovingly craft our clothing. My partner on the fashion side has been working with these makers for the last 17 years, enjoying a long-term and sustained relationship with them all.
Everyone that we work with dictates what they should be paid and are in total control of their earnings.
For some of the women who have small children, the traditional methods used mean that they are able to work and earn from home.
Environmental impact is kept to an absolute minimum. The natural dyes are non-polluting, and we have a no-waste policy which means that nothing is thrown away.
We work with weavers based in rural Odisha and rural West Bengal and the yarn we use is both hand-spun and hand-woven.
The weavers in rural West Bengal are particularly talented as they are able to work with incredibly fine thread to create the beautiful gossamer cotton voile through which fine, repeated patterns are woven (as seen in our Diamond Wrap Dress, above left) . This skill is particular to this group of artisans who originated from Bangladesh but moved to West Bengal after partition.
A tribal family of weavers, based in rural Odisha, hand-spin and weave the cotton using a natural dye created from iron.
The unprocessed cotton yarn is given an intensive foot massage with cow dung paste (!), and then soaked in ash waters to fix the colour. It is then dried in the sun for days. This method also gives the cotton a beautifully soft handle.
The preparation of the yarn is as laborious and time consuming, as the setting-up of the loom involves counting each individual warp, then hand-weaving and also sewing all the embroidery by hand.
Making a living this way, whilst preserving important, age-old craft methods and traditions that would otherwise be at risk of dying out, also enables this tribal community to live rurally, on their ancestral land.
They remain in control and can dictate what they earn. And it also means that the community doesn’t have to break-up and possibly even disappear through people leaving to seek work in a city.
The embroiderers who make our Embroidered Shirt Dress (above left) are a group of talented ladies from Lucknow who again, my partner has worked with for over 17 years. 12 different types of intricate stiches have been used on this collection alone, although traditionally the community would have used around 30, which shows that it’s sadly a dying art and therefore so important to preserve.
The pieces are then stitched together in a small workshop and the tailors, all men, are properly paid and also enjoy an excellent working environment.
This is how we like to work, because it's everything that fast fashion isn't.