With regards to Indigo handloom, what is its defining characteristic? What do you consider its feature product?
Our feature products are our handwoven scarves. In November, we are launching a line of sleep wear. The reason for this release has to do with the alarming amount of artificial fibers and chemicals in conventional nightwear. It’s really hard to find anything without some aspect of polyester or artificial in it.
I developed a line of sleep wear because very few people can afford to start their wardrobe over with fibres. At least, when they are sleeping at night, they can be confident that for eight hours they are wearing a fabric on their body that is free of chemicals.
We have one organic cotton fabric that is undyed. You can’t get closer to how nature intended that cotton to be. We cut out chemicals by hand weaving the fabric. All of the chemical processes needed to take cotton, which is a soft and imperfectly shaped fibre, and put it through a shape and make it even and smooth on the other side takes a lot of energy and emissions.
We don’t do that. We dye with a low-impact dye. We put a toner on it, so the dye doesn’t bleed. We weave it, and then once it comes off the loom if it has some starch I take the starch off. We finish with a fabric softener, and that’s all we do. It is 1/4th the processes of a regular cotton, milled cotton.
Our body’s biggest organ is the skin. So much passes from the skin, and the tiny particles that are sprayed on clothes can be absorbed into the skin. While your body may have to endure synthetic materials during the day, at least at night you can detox. In fact, it’s been said that the body does most of its detoxing at night.
What other things are you taking part in now?
We are working on a clothing line. Right now our collection consists of beach cover-ups, bathrobes, dresses and loungewear. Our beach cover-ups are transitional and can be worn to bed or even dressed up for a night out. We wanted to develop that you could wear all of the time and have close to your skin – without toxicity. We even have a reversible dress so you can essentially have two outfit in one.
Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion?
I think that handwoven textiles are made with the thoughtful pace of other pre-Industrial Revolution products and techniques and we can learn something from them. The ethical fashion movement is constantly in search of the next big invention or technology that will save us. Recycling fibers is one. Although you can recycle plastic bottles to make polyester, you still have all of the chemicals in the fabric and the nano particles making their way into our ocean.
You get a better fabric if you do it the old way. With natural fibers your skin is happier and you won’t have to add to the problems that already exist on our planet as natural fibers are also biodegradable. The only hurdle you might come across is having to iron them.
Thank you for your time, Smita.