Do you believe artisan-made textiles are rising in popularity?
Like organic food, craft beers, and artisan breads, there is a global appetite for textiles that are created ethically and with provenance that is culturally rich. There is a general desire for the unique and the beautifully imperfect that only handcrafted textiles can offer.
Why choose handloom textiles over industrialised textile mills?
From a practical perspective, a lot of designers are of a scale that creating a unique textile is impossible with industrialised textile mills. With handloom, flexible minimums provide access to smaller scale production for original designs. From a customer and brand perspective, textile traceability and provenance are significant aspects of transparency. We can offer that to the customer, as well as inspiring stories of cultural authenticity and positive social impact by working with these communities.
From an environmental perspective, handloom uses no electricity and has no emissions. In terms of the social impact, the production of hand-loomed textiles employs up to 9 times more people to produce the same amount of fabric. Whole communities can thrive from their traditional craft when handloom textiles are chosen over industrialised textile mills.
What is the best way the average consumer can support artisan-made textiles and keep them alive?
Artisan textiles touch a chord within people. There is an increase in interest and awareness around hand-craft and artisanal textiles, where people are looking for unique and soulful products rather than face the deluge of the mass produced. Telling the story about the provenance, the cultural significance, and how it was made is important; that is where Artisans of Fashion can add the most value.
When there is a story to tell, people engage, and it brings a whole other meaning to a garment; an intangible that adds so much value. The best way to support artisan-made textiles is to support designers who are working with artisans. Look for special pieces that are hand made or have handcrafted components. Talk about the origins, and as they say, be curious and ask questions.
I now remember my experience watching the skilled artisan in Myanmar so differently. That woman was not crafting for the enjoyment of tourists like me, she was creating for her livelihood, her family, her food and her shelter. The fabric was made with consideration and love, in a way that few people remember; perhaps a unique method passed down by her ancestors. I’ll never again look at fabric the same way.
What quote could be more relevant to leave you with than words from Gandhi himself… “There is no beauty in the finest cloth if it makes hunger and unhappiness” – Mahatma Gandhi.