“That’s the thing with handmade items. They still have the person’s mark on them. And when you hold them, you feel less alone.” – Aimee Bender
The last few months have been significant for us. We’ve been thinking & assessing, re-thinking & re-assessing. Our design and innovation teams have spent many days huddled up in the effort to chalk out the trajectory of Grassroot’s evolution into the Spring collection that is now available to you. However, through all the brain-storming sessions and in the midst of the varied perspectives, our core focus remained unchanged- beautiful, handcrafted clothes.
Our love affair with handcraft is a resilient one. What makes the choice easier, is that each one of us, unanimously, is deeply in love with the waves of warp & weft that form the fabric. We love the rhythmic thuds of a handloom far more than the metallic clang of machinery. Our designs only thrive in the skilful hands of the weavers and artisans, as they pore over their loom, lending us their incomparable mastery.
Indian crafts continue to amaze us, as we watch possibilities materialize in the most unexpected ways. These crafts hold within them the potential to transcend regional peripheries and manifest beautifully in a global milieu. Who then, are we, to deny them their rightful flight of glory?
Our new collection is a reflection of this very train of thought. Handwoven fabrics, adorned with traditional handcraft, present themselves in a truly universal light, as new silhouettes and fresh design with a global appeal take centre-stage. They embody the best of many worlds, whilst continuing to empower the artisans who safeguard these priceless traditions.
Within our repertoire of crafts this time, is the stunning craft of Ikat. One of the oldest and arguably the most difficult form of textile weaving, the origin of Ikat is difficult to pinpoint. The word ‘ikat’ (pronounced ‘ee-KAHT’) comes from the Malaysian word ‘mengikat,’ or ‘to tie,’ because the loose threads are tied into bundles using grasses or wax-treated cotton to specify where the dye is able to sink in and colour the thread. Much like tie-dye or batik, ikat uses a resist-dyeing technique, but rather than applying the pattern to cloth, it’s created earlier by wrapping bundles of yarn before they’re dyed. This is also what gives ikat its signature blurriness as it’s very tricky to line up the patterned yarns perfectly on the loom – the more precise the pattern, the greater the skill of the weaver.
There are also three styles of ikat, each categorised by how they are weaved. Some ikats are made by dyeing the warp threads (the fixed threads that are attached to the loom), some by dyeing the weft threads (the threads that are actually woven in and out of the warp threads), and some by dyeing both in the third and the most advanced technique known as double ikat. Craftsmen can spend months tie and dyeing a pattern into both warp and weft threads and then painstakingly weaving the cloth so the pattern fits together without looking disjointed. This method is so difficult it’s only produced in three countries: India, Japan and Indonesia.
Ikat requires mathematical precision and the luxury of dedicated time to produce. This is also the reason why it is now turning from a highly sought after craft for royals into a dwindling art form. But the inherent beauty of Ikat remains unchanged- in its delightful play of patterns and colours, telling of the loving touch of a human hand.