Journey of an outfit: Dahlia Bloom maxi dress

With each chapter, we do our best to grow in our production processes, to make sure we become more sustainable with each season. This means encouraging our threadspeller team to keep learning, strengthening our partnerships with those who craft with us as well as forming new connections with other NGOs/artisan communities who share similar green objectives.

BLOOM is our most recent and greenest collection yet - and when we craft a new collection then that will be our greenest. Growth never stops and it’s what ensures that we are always putting our planet first. And so, today, we want to share how we have grown so far by depicting the journey of one of our latest silhouettes, our DAHLIA BLOOM MAXI DRESS, from inspiration to craft to final silhouette.

Inspired by memories & small joys

As with every collection of ours, we begin crafting a collection by gathering our inspiration. Oftentimes, these come from our travels and green escapes that our team had experienced - something that we truly connected with in our lives and surroundings. With the turbulent almost 2 years we have gone through, these experiences were not so possible and so, this year, we looked to what in our lives was bringing us comfort and small joys daily. These times had called for collective support and healing and we wanted to be able to do that with our designs in any way we could to then be able to share it with you, our community. And from this notion grew our recent chapters we launched throughout this year.

Our 8th one, that being our latest winter 2021 edit, takes a moment that many of us may be familiar with, the simple experience of walking through a garden as the season turns to autumn/winter. We wanted to focus on the joy of these moments like noticing particular blooms flourish as cooler temperatures set in, crisp mornings and watching leaves change colours as the days pass - then transform them into our latest conscious designs such as the one we are focusing on today, our Dahlia Bloom maxi dress.

So, why dahlias?

The flower takes centre stage on this silhouette, the motif covering every inch of our fabric. For many who grew up in Delhi, such as our green team, dahlias are a flower connected to the later seasons of the year. Since they are known to be tender perennials - meaning they can survive cooler climates if not too extreme - their varying hues can be spotted in many a Delhi home garden.

Our textile designer, Anukriti, who designed the print motif, shares some insight into why she was also drawn to them in her everyday life:

“[When we were first brainstorming this collection] The inspiration first came from Mahima's winter garden in Sainik Farms. Delhi is full of dahlias as soon as December arrives and they have always been around me since childhood around this time since my mom is a plant mother herself. She used to grow huge dahlia flowers in as many colours as possible and I remember having so many photographs of me as a kid surrounded by them in our home garden. Having so many memories with them and looking at them closely since childhood, the structure of this flower never seemed complex to me. We went through a few trials before we reached the perfect shape of the petals and full flower but while developing the print, the process for me was sentimental and magical.” - Anukriti⁠

Craft & communities

The next step is to craft. At the core of everything we craft, is the intention to carry out each step sustainably. And we would not be able to do that without the help of ethical vendors that share the same green mindset. Here, we share each step and who helps us make the dress a reality.

1.From fibre to fabric.

The Dahlia Bloom maxi’s craft story begins with Khamir. In their own words, they are an NGO that “works to strengthen and promote the rich artisanal traditions of Kachchh district… Born in 2005 as a joint initiative of Kachchh Nav Nirman Abhiyan and the Nehru Foundation for Development, Khamir was formally registered under the Societies and Trust Acts in the same year. Today, it serves as a platform for the promotion of traditional handicrafts and allied cultural practices, the processes involved in their creation, and the preservation of culture, community and local environments.”

Through them, we obtain our Kala cotton fabric - they particularly focus on producing Kala cotton fibres (an initiative they began in 2007 in partnership with Satvik, an association of organic farmers in Kachchh) due to it being a native Indian cotton strain, one that we could utilise properly and sustainably if only we learned to farm and craft it properly. In the past, since the fibre has a short staple length, it had been difficult to produce fine quality textiles with it and so, it lacked use in mainstream markets.

“Today, the Kala Cotton Initiative encourages sustainable cotton textile production in harmony with local ecology. The project aims to create a value chain at multiple levels by working with marginalized communities and promoting locally grown species. To implement this initiative, Khamir and Satvik have created a supply chain between the Kala Cotton farmers, ginners, spinners and weavers to convert the raw cotton into hand woven products.” - khamir.org

Khamir is a shining example of powerful collaboration between local communities to effectively create sustainable systems - which is why we are so proud to have found a partnership with them and share how beautiful their fabric can be.

2.Creating our dahlia motif.

Once Khamir crafts our Kala cotton, we send it on to Bagru Textiles located in the Jaipur district,  Bagru, Rajasthan. This artisan community has been a longstanding partner of ours since Summer 2020, helping us develop and create all our prints including our dahlia motif seen on this silhouette.

The artisan community itself has upheld it’s hand block printing craft for some centuries:

“For at least 400 years, Bagru has been home to the Chhipa — a clan whose name comes either from a Gujarati word meaning “to print” or from combining two Nepal Bhasa words: ‘chhi’ (“to dye”) and ‘pa’ (“to leave something to bask in sun”). The latter theory feels especially true as you walk through the vast communal drying fields that connect the Chhipa Mohalla —the village printers’ quarters…At least sixteen families regularly work as the master printers, dyers, block carvers, dhobiwalas (laundry people), and designers...” - thekindcraft.com

Their love for the art is something we have wholeheartedly wanted to share through our collections, hence why we even began our partnership, as well as because their methods rely mostly on crafting by hand rather than succumbing to mass producing machinery.

3.The final silhouette

And finally, our hand block printed fabric arrives at our workshop in Delhi into the hands of our threadspeller team. This team handles every single one of our pieces in one way or another, and are always the ones who finish each of our SUI garments.

Here, our small, dedicated team performs the following tasks:

-Tahir, our Master, cuts out the silhouette precisely to then be stitched.

-Either of our tailors, Hasan or Hanif, machine stitches the pattern pieces to form the full silhouette.

-Anita sews each button onto the dress by hand.

-It’s then handed back to Hasan/Hanif to iron and check over the stitching.

-Tahir then also checks over the silhouette by measuring it from top to bottom.

-Our production manager, Saif, performs a final quality check to evaluate if it’s ready to be delivered.

Conscious design & the green effect

We chose each of these steps to be part of our process because of one big reason, that being that the methods are conscious and allow us to avoid harming our environment through our production.

1.By choosing a fibre that is native to India, we are promoting resources that can be found right here in our home. From an environmental standpoint, carbon emissions and energy use is reduced due to less shipping and transportation needed to get fibres where they need to be to complete different stages. From a social/community standpoint, thomasnet.com, states “It stands to reason that if sourcing locally increases your bottom line, it would do the same for other suppliers and manufacturers in your area, which can be a big boon to your local economy and the people who live there. Happy, well-paid employees are more likely to invest in local businesses. Additionally, respected and well-off businesses are in a position to contribute to communities through fundraising, volunteering, benefits, and sponsored activities.” - a win for our planet and our people.

2.By favouring organic methods of production such as with Kala cotton, we are able to avoid the use of harsh chemicals that poison our atmosphere, create dangerous environments for workers, and are safer for our skin. Kala cotton is generally a hardy, durable fibre that can be grown in harsh conditions, it survives well just by being rainfed, and can even grow in drought prone areas like it’s native home, Kutch.

3.By designing and crafting using by-hand methods such as the handloom (to create our fabric) and hand block printing (to create our motif), we are able to avoid contributing to overall textiles greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions created from the heavy use of machinery in order to mass produce. As stated in a Common Objective article, “It is estimated that around 38 percent of yearly GHG emissions are generated during textile production – and today that overwhelmingly means either synthetics (62 percent of all fabric production, mainly polyester) or cotton (24 percent).” Moreover, we are able to promote local crafts which creates demand for them and contributes positively to helping our local economies and communities flourish.

4.By crafting using azo-free dyes used during our hand block printing stage, we avoid the use of azo dyes that are harmful to our environment, especially our marine ecosystems. As stated in this study by Rawat, Mishra & Sharma, “Azo dyes account for >70% of the global industrial demand (∼9 million tons). Owing to their genotoxic/carcinogenic potential, the annual disposal of ∼4,500,000 tons of dyes and/or degraded products is an environmental and socio-economic concern.”

5.By crafting minimal stock/on a made-to-order basis as well as upcycling within our production cycle, we are able to minimise our waste. In 2018 alone, approximately 17 million tons of textile waste ended up in landfills, when it comes to recycling, “The recycling rate for all textiles was 14.7 percent in 2018, with 2.5 million tons recycled. Within this figure, EPA estimated that the recycling rate for textiles in clothing and footwear was 13 percent based on information from the American Textile Recycling Service. The rate for items such as sheets and pillowcases was 15.8 percent in 2018.” - All in all, waste is a huge issue within our industry and one we do our best to not contribute to.

 

We hope this gave you insight into our own production as well as inform you of why it’s so important that we, as a fashion brand along with others, take strides to always be conscious within our practices. The fashion industry is in need of much reform and we want to make a difference by making sure we stay accountable and stick to our green promises so, we look forward to sharing more with you about our latest collection!