With a new season comes a new story, and our latest one, Tropical Hearts, which marks our 11th Chapter, reflects summer heat, tropical joy, and moments in nature. As always, we love bringing focus to what our craft intentions are for every Edit, and this time around, we’d like to do that by introducing our Wild Monstera midi shirt dress. The piece combines some of our favourite slow crafts that we’ve worked with for years combined with fresh motifs that make this Chapter unique.
Each season, we dedicate ourselves to improving our craft, after all a key sustainable act that we can all embrace is continuous growth and learning. And so, we’re excited to take you behind-the-scenes once more to show you what’s different (and consciously constant) this season.
Inspired by the tropics & conscious living
This year, we go back to our roots and focus on the tropics with Singapore, our second home, being our main muse. It’s a place of perpetual summer, almost constant sunshine, and vibrant greenery that flourishes in every space it can - a pretty perfect place to inspire a conscious Summer Edit.
And, more importantly, its tropical spaces and abundant botanical flora are things we drew on heavily this season. Tropical rainforests in itself are a hugely important environment within the entirety of our planet’s own ecosystem:
“Tropical forests cover just 6% of the planet’s land surface but are some of the richest, most biodiverse places on Earth. They are home to ancient, towering trees and a huge variety of plants, birds, insects and fascinating mammals. A staggering 80% of the world's documented species can be found in tropical rainforests, which makes them a crucial habitat...and sources of food for both people and nature. They play an important role in the global water cycle, help tackle climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and provide livelihoods for local communities.” - WWF
With that in mind, we knew we also wanted to be able to bring some attention to all that it does for us, and remind our wearers of how important it is to preserve and nurture these environments.
And so, the way we captured the beauty of the tropics with our shirt dress is through representing the monstera leaf - a plant that’s native to Central American rainforests but can be found all over the world in tropical climates in many varieties. The plant’s symbolism is also something we kept in mind when creating our motif, in Chinese symbolism, the monstera represents long life and honouring those respected in our community - notions that connect to how our pieces are created to last, stay with you for years to come, and remind you to appreciate the work of skilled artisans.
All about craft
The Wild Monstera shirt dress, alongside the rest of the collection, represents our continued effort to craft as sustainably as we can through utilising slow craft methods; partnering with vendors with the same values; all while encouraging a lifestyle that heals our planet. To keep these intentions at the forefront, human touch in our craft is essential, where every single one of our pieces is created with the help of farmers, workers, artisans, and tailors who work with care and skill - all within India.
1.From fibre to fabric
Crafted in handwoven organic cotton, our fabric for this piece is one many of our longtime green heart-ers will recognise. An absolute favourite, the fabric is created by our ethical vendor WomenWeave, who we have been collaborating and crafting with since 2018! We especially love partnering with this NGO because of their dedication to uplifting female weavers: “established in Maheshwar in 2003. Its founding vision to help local women lead better lives by ensuring that handloom weaving is a profitable, sustainable, fulfilling and dignified form of livelihood for them…Where women have acted as “shadow weavers”, supplementing male family member’s work, WomenWeave creates opportunities for them to gain more control over and be recognised for their labour, as well as enhance their skill-set.” - womenweave.org
Their mission is especially important with the history of female weavers in India being invisibilised time and time again, even today, though 70% of the handloom sector workforce is made up of women, according to government surveys, the majority of the credit will often go to men, the common thought being that women only take care of the small tasks within the fabrics production. As a female-led business ourselves, being able to support WomenWeave’s mission is something we take to heart.
Moreover, the fabric they create is incredibly green:
- The cotton is organic, meaning no pesticides are used when growing the fibre - safer for all farmers and workers involved.
- The cotton is sourced from local farms, further enriching their economies that are often rural.
- The fibre is spun by hand to create the yarns.
- The yarns are woven by hand too!
2.Creating our print motif
All our print motifs are designed in-house by team member and textile designer, Anukriti. As we mentioned, we picked the monstera leaf, one, due to its special symbolism, but it’s also a nostalgic motif. This is not the first time we’ve brought the plant to our designs, in fact, we first introduced it back in Summer 2020 and is something that reminds us of the rawness of nature, a notion we’ve always connected to honesty within our journey and our drive to be open with our community.
When it comes to the craft, another one of our longtime partners joined us to create the print motif, Bagru Textiles. A little background on this craft community:
“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”).... A fifth-generation dyer and a Master Printer, [Vijendra] Viju is founder of Bagru Textiles – a company which builds upon the legacy of his family’s cloth dying and printing business… At least sixteen families regularly work as the master printers, dyers, block carvers, dhobiwalas (laundry people), and designers needed to meet this growing market demand. A portion of Bagru Textiles’ profits support community initiatives for the entire Chhipa community and Block Shop has developed their own program to reinvest in the village, sponsoring health clinics and providing water filters for co-op families.” - thekindcraft.com
By working with them, we’re honoured to be able to bring a unique traditional to our green heart-ers that shows how a generations-old craft can still be accessible in the modern world, all while supporting artisans who work hard to keep the art alive.
We love hand block print for so many green reasons:
- The printing blocks are created from local woods, a natural, renewable, biodegradable resource.
- The wooden blocks are carved by hand.
- The dyes used are all azo-free, meaning specific chemicals often present in commonly used textile dyes are not included - a dye that doesn’t harm natural environments is the result.
- Dyes are mixed by hand and the motif is printed by hand too.
- Overall, the process creates little to no carbon emissions.
3.The final silhouette
And so, our fabric is woven and printed as we come to the last stages, all of which take place at our very own workshop in New Delhi, where it arrives to be handled by our small but mighty threadspeller team. The team is made up of a Master cutter, tailors, machine and hand embroiderers, most of which had a hand in creating the final silhouette.
This silhouette itself is a combination of old and new. We’ve previously created similar silhouettes, whether with shorter sleeves or lengths, here and there, however, we freshened it up for an all new season and story - creating something classic that can go from work to play effortlessly. The look is more fitted around the bodice with a flowy skirt that can definitely be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, truly versatile and super comfy.
Here are the steps taken at our workshop to create it:
- The silhouette is cut by Tahir, the Master.
- Tailors take over to stitch each of the pieces together.
- A production manager checks over every element.
- The piece is handed back to the tailors to correct any little alterations if needed.
- Final checks are performed.
And the way we stay green at our workshop?
- We craft with a small team of less than 10 members so our production remains as slow as it can be.
- No heavy machinery aside from sewing machines are involved in the process in order to keep our energy/electricity usage low i.e. less carbon emissions.
- Textile offcuts are saved for future use in order to keep our waste low too!
With every colour, motif, and silhouette, the goal is always the same: to love our planet as much and as best as we can by making conscious choices within our production.
We always want to stay transparent with you, our conscious community, so, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have more questions about our production process! You can also find more craft info through posts in our Green Journal here.