Textiles have long been a hallmark of Indian culture. Originating in the 14th century, antique Rajasthani textiles date back to the 3rd century. Traditionally, this textile craft was done in villages in cooperation between the block carvers, the chhipa printers, the rangrez dyers, and the dhobi washers. Simultaneously, the artisans developed crafts to embellish the textiles with simple kantha work to intricate aari tari work and applique arts.
Even when we have moved to machine dyed, printed and embellished textiles, these age-old crafts are still a long way from dying. These traditional arts are still very much in fashion, despite the accessibility of modern techniques. The beauty of these hand-crafted textiles lies in the uniqueness of each individual piece. No two pieces can be identical, therein lying their charm.
India is home to a plethora of handlooms, weaves and textile crafts. While these are arts and crafts that are always in danger of succumbing to modern technology and getting buried under a sea of faster, quicker methods to manufacture; there are several that still survive and thrive.
We invite you to explore with us these craft stories which are present in our range of clothing and furnishings. It’s a different feeling of owning a material that has been carefully woven, printed, embellished and put together and they will always have a particularly special feel about them.
Block printing begins with carving designs into wooden blocks by hand before being dipped in dye and printed onto fabric. Throughout the printing process artisans pay meticulous attention to detail to ensure all motifs and colours are harmonised on the fabric. These artisans don't really make mistakes. And the very subtle “mistakes” they make are actually a beautiful reminder of the skilled labor and artistry that went into each piece of fabric.
Meticulous accuracy and exceptional teamwork are vital in block printing to harmonise motifs and colours in the final creation. Patience is also required. Even with twenty printers the painstaking process for a single hand printed garment can take eight hours to complete, though the result is one of a kind. With a huge diversity of designs and techniques, these unique textiles are still celebrated in fashion.
Hand screen printing is a slower and more intricate method of flatbed printing, done on long tables up to 100 yds. Printers, standing on both sides of the table, move the screen with great care, one frame at a time, until the entire length of cloth is printed. Once the screen is placed, ink is placed on top and a flood bar is used to push the ink through the holes in the screen mesh.
Hand screen printing emerged in recent history as a means of increasing productivity but uses motifs, techniques and colour schemes of traditional hand block printing along with modern motifs. The skilled art of hand screen printing produces better quality textiles but with the same uniqueness in fabrics as older traditional textile arts. It delicately balances the mix of the old and the new for the modern world of fashion.
The tying of cloth with thread and then dying it is the oldest form of creating patterns on a plain piece of cloth. Bandhani is a type of tie-dye textile decorated by plucking the cloth with the fingernails into many tiny bindings that form figurative designs. Bandhani work, after the processing is over, results into a variety of symbols including, dots, squares, waves and strips.
The art of Bandhana is a highly skilled process and the results are stunning, vibrant and unique designs. What is essential in Bandhni is the minute and skilful manipulation of the fingers for tying, extensive knowledge of colour schemes and skill in dyeing materials. This beautiful tie and dye art is not only a world's historic, traditional and cultural favourite, but is also a great way to increase oomph factor by incorporating it in various forms with different styles.
Kantha is an ever-popular style of embroidery done by hand using the 'running' stitch. Traditionally used for quilts, over time it has evolved and made its way right into the heart of Indian fashion. Kantha is perhaps the oldest forms of Indian embroidery, it can be traced back to the first and second A.D. Economical, practical and yet beautiful is what Kantha embroidery is all about.
Kantha work involves complex artistic work done by the weavers with the blend of exquisite embroidery in ornamental running stitch. The yarn is taken and looped to the desired thickness, the design is then traced and finally covered with running stitches. The stitching on the cloth gives it a slight wrinkled, wavy effect. Other variations of Kantha involves the great mirror, intricate applique work and making beautiful patchwork cloth.
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, every region has its own handloom techniques that are used to weave many unique fabrics with their own unique textures and designs by master-craftsmen. Resplendent, intricate, and varied, India’s handloom tradition is a kaleidoscope of colours and cultures. It is unparalleled in its flexibility and versatility, permitting experimentation and encouraging innovation. Handlooms reflects not only the rich tradition and high skill of the weavers but also presents a trendy garment segment apart from made-ups, stoles, shawls and home furnishing made of handloom fabrics.
The whole process of handloom is quite intricate starting from preparing the yarn, warping it and then hand weaving it on pit looms or frame looms generally located in weavers’ homes. Traditionally, pre-loom activities like dyeing and warping were outsourced and sizing, attaching the warp, weft winding & weaving activities were carried out by the weaver. The uniqueness of the fabrics comes from the wide range of varied designs, manufactured by different techniques and the type and treatment of the yarn.