Slow clothes are a journey in the making. Tonight we will showcase four compass points on that journey. Each maker that we will feature is in full stride – with one foot in the traditional territory of the past and one foot already placed in the optimistic landscape of the future.
Before we travel through the four quadrants of tonight’s world, let me first introduce you to the ideas behind slow clothes.
Slow clothes are both an objective and a garment. We might call slow clothes "humanist" clothing because of the concern for the people in every stage of production. When we make slow clothes we begin with the source fibers. If it is a wool, fleece, silk or hair we ask what animals provide it. Who are the farmers? How and where is the farming done? What is the relationship of the farmers to the local communities. When we harvest a plant fiber we seek to know how it is grown. It is an eye-opener to do any research into conventional cotton. Equally it is inspirational to visit an organic cotton farmer.
These fibers are transformed into thread. Already they have set themselves apart from other fibers. The human hand can accommodate the unique character of these fibers. In contrast fibers which are processed by machine must meet the demands of the machine. Usually this means only one variety of cotton or silk.
When these fibers are woven or knitted into cloth and garments, once again, the slowness of hand production permits a variety of techniques which are impossible with high speed power looms.
In the cases when the cloth is block printed, stitched, embroidered, appliquéd, tie died, batiked, it becomes more remarkable still. The cloth may become rare and take on a singular beauty through being coloured by a single dye. And so in the end we have a garment which, even though it is commendable as a thing in itself, for it’s design, the cut and detail of its style, is really remarkable because is has a voice and tells the stories of its own making.
It is part of a community of makers, farmers, planters and artisans. IT brings these communities together in a dance of combinations that ends with you. You. Each and every person in the audience tonight. By simply being in this audience you have issued the command that has gone from the designers to the tailors to the sewers to the blockprinters to the maker of dyes, to the farmer of fibers. You are part of something greater than you may ever know.
These garments represent our deep commitment to artisans, hand embellishment and pattern. We believe that these clothes speak of the wisdom of the sensual world.
Bleu de Lectoure
For centuries the French perfected woad blues. They referred to this colour as an “ennoblement” not as a dye, because they believed that the colour ennobled the fabric. Today woad has been revived by the team of Henri and Denise Lambert. The subtle shades of pastel blue are once again living up to their nobel past.
Hand spun from the downy undercoat of the Arctic musk ox, the knowledge and skill to spin qiviuk exists in the traditional cultures of Peru. A heritage of working with Guanaco, Vicuña, and Alpacca has resulted in a combination of talents that reaches across hemispheres.
Known since roman times for their unsurpassed skill at spinning and handloom, the artisans of Bengal make weaving a part of each day. As one walks a pathway through the verdant landscape, the sound of flying shuttles comes from every home. Bappa Biswas works alongside artisans to collaborate on the designs of these exquisite pieces.