Top Drawer Autumn… next chapter in our trade journey

Having bet on Top Drawer as our launch trade show in January this year, and coming away from it with many retail contacts and a few orders to sustain us, we were quite happy with the start of our trade career. So choosing to be back at the show this Autumn with a new set of collections, hoping to have another crack at the retail buyers, we must be stark raving mad!!

But there is method in this madness (or atleast we hope so!) as we are doing so many things which we missed out with our first show. We have the samples ready well in advance, stylized images evoking a sense of luxury are out into the digital world, press releases about our very many inspirations written and blogged, a feature in a trade mag BEFORE the trade show, invitations to the buyers sent out so that they receive them well in advance AND wardrobe for three days of high power sales sorted!

All we need is for hordes of buyers to flock at our stand (B122 in the Gift isle), gush at all the gorgeous colours and designs (a little bit of gushing is very good for the ego) but at the end of it all BUY our products! The other thing we have worked on (apart from the look of the wardrobe) is the product pricing – we have many many designs in the affordable range so that Purvaai’s gorgeousness can spread across many homes this Christmas (oooh we like the sound of that – Santa you have some serious competition!)

Visit us at Stand B122 at Top Drawer Autumn, 16-18 September 2012, London Olympia.

The feel good factor

As more and more traditional arts and crafts are dying out, thanks to mechanization, over-the-top consumerism and just plain short sightedness on our part, organisations like Himalayan Weavers, come as a breath of fresh air.

Himalayan Weavers was set up to promote environmentally friendly products from the Himalayas. Working with two tribes who have inhabited the foothills of the Himalayas for centuries, the Bhotias and the Jaunpuris, Himalayan Weavers practices fair trade.

These tribes live along a wide stretch of the Himalayas. They are legendary traders, shepherds, spinners and weavers. For generations they nurtured partnerships with nomadic Tibetans, enriching their craft by learning about new dyes and adapting Tibetan designs.

Handwoven, Naturally Dyed Sheep's wool throws

The warm and wonderful fair trade throws, which are part of our Autumn Winter range

They are highly skilled but their access to markets is very limited, largely confined to pilgrims visiting various holy shrines in the Himalayas. In recent times, greater access to mechanized mill products has also led to a decline in the demand for traditional wool craftsmanship. The Himalayan Weavers’ co-op is working to revive this tradition by supporting spinners and weavers of the region.

The salaries and wage rates paid by Himalayan Weavers to these groups are considerably higher than those prevalent in the area. In addition, they also practice a policy of equal pay for equal work, thus empowering women workers.

Himalayan Tribal woman weaving wool on handloom

One of the Himalayan Weavers (source: Himalayan Weavers)

They encourage people working with them to study further. This is particularly important in case of women employees, many of whom drop out of school at a very young age. They pay all the expenses related to their education and allow fully paid time off so that they can prepare for and sit examinations. Supported by Himalayan Weavers, two of the women employees are now pursuing a college degree. They also provide medical support by reimbursing the cost of hospital visits and medicines. But above all, they encourage craftspeople (women spinning yarn and the weavers) to work from home so that their other economic activities, such as farming, and social life are not affected.

We are proud to be associated with Himalayan Weavers and present hand spun, hand woven throws in naturally dyed sheep’s wool as part of our Autumn Winter ‘Weaves’ collection.

If you are a retailer interested in stocking these beautiful, warm, rich throws and also in supporting the indigenous Himalayan people while preserving rich handicraft traditions, please contact us.

Handwoven Sheepswool Throws in Purvaai window display

Available in a variety of colours, better to mix and match with, our throws displayed in Craft Central’s window in London

These soft and luxuriant fair trade throws will also be on display at our stall (B122) at Top Drawer in Olympia, London, from September 16-18, 2012.

Tie-Dye….The Eternal Favorite

Bandhani and Lehariya turbans

An ancient and ever popular technique, tie-dye is a process of resist dyeing textiles typically using bright colors. While there are several variations in technique, the method basically involves patterns of color by folding, tying, stitching, crumpling the fabric to inhibit the flow of the dye into the folds of the fabric. The pattern of the folds and where the colors are squirted determines the final design.

Several variations of the tie-dye technique are evident the world over, from the Shibori in Japan, the Hausa technique in West Africa, Plangi and Tritik in Indonesia to the beautiful Bandhani, Ikat and Leheriya patterns of India.

The now very popular form of “Bandhani” derives its name from the Hindi word Bandhan which means tying up. Bandhani is an ancient art practiced mainly in Western India.

Lehariya turban

This region is also well known for its Leheriya pattern – literally meaning waves. This technique is quite different to the Bandhani as here the fabric is rolled from one corner to the other diagonally and then it is tied at intervals with strings. An astounding variety of Leheriya prints are produced using the simple process of tying and dyeing. The Panchranga technique, using five colours is considered to be very auspicious as the number five has a special position in Hindu Mythology. The Saptrangi flaunts the seven colours of the rainbow. Stripes that follow in one direction are called Leheriya, while diagonal stripes that intersect at right angles to form checks are called Mothra.

The leheriya was patronized in the nineteenth and early twentieth century by the local traders and merchants who wore turbans of bright Leheriya fabric.

This Leheriya (zigzag pattern of irregular colour stripes) is a visual invocation of the flow of water – creating a calm and restful coastal feel we gushed over in our earlier post. Especially in Indigo it shows the wonderfully varying depths of colour after multiple mud-resistant and dyeing processes. No small wonder that the blues in leheriya attract the eyes instinctively, as they did ours.

Purvaai’s Oceana tie-dye collection

Having experimented with the Shibori technique in the Spring Summer collection, Purvaai now brings to you the Leheriya pattern in its new collection ‘Oceana’ of quilts, cushion covers, tea towels and silk stoles.

Watch this space for more updates and visit us at the Top Drawer Autumn, Stand B122, 16-18 September, London Olympia.

Bidri inspired textile art

The Bahamani Sultans ruled over many provinces in India between the 13th and 15th centuries. Being great patrons of art and architecture, they commissioned Abdullah bin Kaiser, a craftsman from Iran to work on decorating the royal palaces and courts. It is believed that Kaiser collaborated with local artisans to give birth to the craft in the township of Bidar (hence Bidri) in South India. Since then the craft has been handed down through generations.

The craft process and its final manifestation, both are very intricate. Involving many steps including casting, engraving, inlaying, blackening and polishing, the resulting products are striking on account of glossy, luxurious silver set against a deep black metal background. The details of the pattern are etched by hand using small chisels and thin sheets of silver are gently hammered into the engraving.

Bidri Hookah Base exhibited at the Louvre

Contemporary Bidri products

Traditionally, the Bidri designs are patterns such as the Asharfi-ki-booti, stars, vine creepers and stylized poppy plants with flowers. Designs also include the Persian Rose and passages from the Quran in Arabic script. However, many modern interpretations of this traditional craft are surfacing in contemporary products like dinner ware, candle stands, and accessories like key rings. We hope that this will allow the beautiful craft to reach a wider audience. Purvaai is making its own humble attempt by interpreting Bidri in textile art. Our new Autumn Winter Collection pays homage to this intricate craft and its dedicated craftsmen.

Purvaai’s Bidri collection of cushions

View our entire ‘Bidri’ collection of cushions at Stand B122 at Top Drawer Autumn, 16-18 September, London Olympia.