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FIGHTING SLAVERY THROUGH FASHION

Diary of India

posted 2024 Apr by



DIARY OF INDIA


March 2024



Day One

We touched down in Delhi (on 2 hours sleep!) and headed straight to one of the factories we work with in Noida. We reviewed our AW'24 collection samples, trying them on, tweaking them. It was exciting to see them in real life.  Lots of coffees later.... we also managed to see our current season styles in final finishing at the factory, the sewing on of buttons and final finishes. The Romily Chocolate Poppy Dress will be on our shop floor in the next few days! That evening we stayed at the beautiful Leela Palace Hotel, our favourite hotel in Delhi and slept very well! 




Day Two

Up early at 5am, we drove to Jaipur (to miss traffic) which is a 4.5 hour drive. Arriving in Jaipur we went straight to one of the rural villages to see a potential impact project we may work with. Set up and run by one lady - her mission is to employ women in the nearby village who would otherwise not have employment. The women come to her house to work; they learn to block print and embroider on to fabrics (insert pictures) and stitch garments. The beauty of this project too is that the women are able to take work home and work around their families and children. The flexibility of the job makes them happy as they are able to tend to their children too, and having a job gives them a feeling of self-worth. You could see it in the women's faces - their smiles and laughter. 


We then headed to Jaipur to see a block printing project and then on for supper at our favourite restaurant and bar - Bar Palladio which has the most beautiful interiors. 


Day Three


My favourite day. We visited a block printing family in the district of Bagru - Mahadev Nagar. The business has been in the family for 7 years. It's called the Chihipa Ka Mohalla printing community. The literal translation of 'chhipa' is 'to print' and here in Bahru this generation of families are keeping the art of Rajasthani block printing alive. 

We see every step of the process, from the gentleman meticulously carving the block work, the actual block printing process itself, and the washing of the fabrics and the drying of the fabric on the land. We spoke to one gentleman who had been working there for 40 years. The skill and precision  was quite remarkable (we even had a go ourselves and it's not as easy as he made it look!). We also saw how Indigo dye works, the fabric dipped in a dark blue sticky dye. Seeing every step of the printing process made me appreciate the beautiful artisans behind the making of our garments. Also, it brought home how important it is to keep the art of block printing alive, which is steeped in such history and tradition. Slow fashion at its very best.


One of the daughters we met is on a mission to keep the art alive, she is set to take over the family business (which is unusual - as a woman) and proudly shows us around the vicinity and takes us to other local families' businesses they work with. Each 'business' is essentially a block printing house set up within the family's home. We meet one family.  It strikes me how well their life works; the mother is able to work whilst the children play with the grandparents. All under one roof essentially. We are moved by the simplicity of their living, their smiles and laughter. What an incredible project, which need the help of businesses like ours to provide constant work and keep these family businesses and traditions alive. 

After feeding the cows in Sanganer (an experience in itself), we then visited a few stores such as Nila House, set up by Lady Bamford which showcases beautiful craft techniques, working to 'revive craft forms and support local communities'. A couple of women were in the process of dying fabrics and a huddle of women were in the centre embroidering onto fabrics which was beautiful to see. We then visited the Anoki shop, followed by the PDFK store and the Palace Atelier in the City Palace.  Struck by the beautiful wallpapers, colours, prints and interiors - we feel inspired! 

Day Four


We headed back to Delhi (sadly just missing the Holi Festival) and our final stop was to visit our factory again to see any samples they had actioned from earlier in the week. After a long wait, followed by our fiftieth curry, we were back on the plane back home early morning at 3am excited to see our families, having missed our small children! What a whirlwind yet inspiring trip. 


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