On Thursday 28 February, twelve Whitecliffe Fashion Design students embarked on a 5-week journey through India to learn about sustainable practices and participate in artisan craft workshops.
Currently in the third week of their trip, the students have already been involved in many cultural experiences, visits, craft-making lessons and have learnt a range of different manufacturing processes. One of their first stops was in Ahmedabad where they visited the Arvind Mills and Arvind Indigo Museum. The Arvind Mills is a leading textile company in India, dedicated to leaving the smallest environmental footprint possible, as well as focusing on ethical and social sustainability within surrounding communities. They own or manage 15 global apparel brands including commonly known brands such as Gap, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger.
Another stop was visiting the Calico Museum which displays art that is sustainable in its practices. These included hand dyed textiles with natural plant and insect dyes, fibres spun and woven by hand, and materials grown without pesticides. All of which ties into the trip’s sustainability focus on crafting high quality textiles and garments with the lowest possible negative impact to the environment and its people.
Crafts that the students have spent numerous days working on include embroidery and different embroidering techniques, Rogan art, patchwork, appliqué, weaving recycled plastics and block painting.
Plastic weaving is an innovative and contemporary craft, which is carried out on Polymer looms known as Polylooms. Plastics are collected from garbage and industrial waste, then cleaned and segregated on the basis of colour and quality. Following this, the plastic is cut into long strips, wound on a bobbin, and then woven into material used for various products. Left over pieces of plastic are used to create tassels, so that no plastic is wasted in the process. The block painting workshop started with preparing the cloth. Using teak wood blocks that had been carved in geometrical patterns and floral motifs, the students then stamped the cloth with the designs. The next step, was dying the cloth in indigo, henna or madder root for colour before drying.
A common theme throughout the students’ travels has been the friendly, warm welcomes they receive everywhere they go. The culture, food and experiences have been unparalleled. Reflecting on their trip so far, students have said, “[There has been] lots of seeing and learning. The knowledge and skills we have gained in the past two weeks is enabling us to understand related craft processes more deeply, and strengthens our appreciation of the time and skills required. This in turn is making our time and experiences in India more rich.”
To read about their amazing experience so far and to follow their journey with daily updates, have a look at their PMSA 2019 blog here.