(This is Part Three of a three-part blogpost telling the story of our journey to regenerate the ‘kantha’ tradition – check out Part One and Part Two.)
Kantha is just one part of Bangladesh’s rich handmade textiles heritage.
Handloom weaving is another craft that is undergoing a revival, thanks to brilliant initiatives like Prabartana
, whose philosophy is very much aligned to Khushi Kantha’s values:
“At Prabartana one learns why and how our personal lifestyles, choices and decisions are connected with the life and livelihood of millions, particularly the handloom weavers, farming communities, artisans and other producers who, by their life-affirming activities keeps us alive, creative and joyful.
Matters apparently mundane, such as what should we wear, what should we eat, what songs are we to listen or where to go to spend time with family and friends, are full of consequences and implications for the economy, society, and culture.”
It has been fascinating to learn more about handloom fabric from Prabartana’s founder, Shahid Hussain Shamim. A friend who travelled to Bangladesh last month was able to visit their shop in Dhaka and pick up some gorgeous swatches, which are dyed using Oeko-Tex Eco-Passport certified dyes.
Made in Bangladesh
Living Blue and Aranya are two other organisations who are providing inspiration in our journey to ‘reframe the narrative’ and celebrate the phrase ‘Made in Bangladesh’ as a statement of pride and happiness.
Living Blue is the largest producer of high quality, authentic natural indigo in Bangladesh – their membership includes 3,000 indigo farmers and over 200 artisans and dyers. We love the way they tell their story:
“Living Blue is a dream, stitched and dyed, made for a lifetime by women and men of high craftsmanship and dignity.”
Aranya use similarly beautiful language to describe what they do:
“Aranya is a philosophy, rooted in natural aesthetics and responsible living. What started as a fair trade movement to revive natural colours has grown into a thriving ecosystem of over 2,000 artisans across Bangladesh.”
You can read more about their incredible work in this interview with founder Ruby Ghuznavi.
Did you know that muslin originates from Bangladesh? I’m very excited to discover the Bengal Muslin project, whose vision is to “promote the story of muslin, the fabled fabric of Bengal” by “embarking upon the journey of recreating, resurrecting and reclaiming what we have lost”, and looking forward to learning about their initiative and exploring collaboration possibilities.
The way forward
I’m really excited about the potential of partnering with these organisations to create blankets that are ‘handmade with love’ from start to finish.
As explained in Part Two of this three-part blogpost
, our initial plan was to use deadstock fabric from the Bangladeshi garments sector for the outside layers of our blankets, reserving the traditional repurposed saris for the inside layers.
Based on everything we’ve learned over the past year of research, sampling and testing, we have changed our thinking: we will now use ethically-produced traditional handloom fabric for the outside layers of our blankets and deadstock fabric for the inside layers.
This means that they will no longer be entirely made from ‘reclaimed, repurposed and reused’ cotton.
But it also means that we will be able to support the livelihoods of even more Bangladeshi artisans, and make a broader contribution to the regeneration of the Bangladeshi handmade textiles sector.
And it means that we’re finally ready to get started!
We’ll be launching our crowdfunding campaign in just over two months’ time, on International Mother Earth Day (22nd April).