Your Brand New Jacket Has Thousands of Years of History

Fashion is continually evolving. Designers are constantly presenting new ideas, shapes and styles. But no matter how cutting edge the designs become, one thing has is inherently clear: the origin of all things new is in the “old.”

Historical fashion roots are exhibited in every new Fashion Week in items using hand embroidery, pattern printing and dying techniques all originating with methods passed down generations ago. Today’s inspirations draw on the work of the hands, eyes and minds of artists come and gone long before our time. Their skills have been passed down through families to find themselves in our contemporary closets and seen on our busy streets. 

The runway shows this spring show bright hues of scarlet, mustard golds and deep blues that were all present in India centuries ago. Ancient Indian dying techniques used madder root, indigo plants and turmeric to produce the bold tones we are still drawn to today.  While, over time, the colors have expanded to include rich shades in any color, the methods of applying color to materials of silk, cotton and wool have not. The ancient traditions have been preserved through practices taught and passed down over hundreds of generations. Patterns are transferred to fabrics using hand carved blocks to stamp shapes of the oldest form as well as new. Images ranging from abstract shapes to portraits that tell stories are applied to materials and used in garments. 

While dying is a very old tradition, it is not the only method of injecting color and pattern into fabrics. Various forms of embroidery have been used in Indian apparel and decorative pieces as well. Women hand stitch the desired shapes, often reflecting flora and fauna or bright geometric shapes, allowing for intricate detail to be delicately added. The style of embroidery or stitching is specific to region and is a reflection of the culture of the area. Using needle and thread also allows for other adornment to be added such as small mirrors or beads. The incredible range of fabrics can be used as clothing, quilts or other items around the home. The elaborate craftsmanship of the women who make these allows for a great variety in depictions as well as creating texture. 

Incorporating any of these pieces invites an ancient art form into your present world. Whether it be a soft scarf, airy blouse or something ornamental for your home, having a beautiful creation made by someone thousands of miles away based on a skill developed generations ago is a modern miracle. There is a story behind each hand crafted item that is a gift to be called your own.