This month we wanted to highlight the reasons why we love supporting the traditional art of hand block printing. How often are we granted the opportunity to see and understand the entire creation process behind our purchases? How connected are we to the things that we wear and fill our homes with? How has buying this item impacted the lives of the artisans behind its creation? These are the kind of questions that drove the conception of Daughters of India. For Avneet, the owner of one of our making facilities, this is the purpose behind everything she does in her efforts to keep this incredible artform alive.
By honouring the local tradition of hand block printing and hand craftsmanship to create sustainable slow fashion apparel, Avneet’s mission is to impact lives with meaning by preserving the link between artisan and consumer. “I think this was a personal agenda I took on myself, that the work we would take on should have the artists input in it.”
Working only with conscious brands that align with her beliefs, Avneet is committed to supporting the continuance of hand block printing as an art. “The styles we have done for Daughters of India are all hand block printed. We work with a lot of artisans and their families. This is a dying art and it is actually diminishing because of fast fashion taking over.” Not only is fast fashion extremely detrimental to the environment, the alluring convenience of earning quick income in the fast fashion industry is having a severe effect on traditional artforms and livelihood practices. “Slow fashion takes a lot of time. Many of the families doing block printing are now reducing because the next generations are not taking up the work anymore.” In response to this, Avneet is determined to keep the artform alive by generating orders for local artisans. “If there is a break they don’t earn anything and that’s really sad, they have to run their houses and their families and earn enough to sustain themselves. As such, fair wages are given and we give them enough work throughout the year so that it is a continual business.” Avneet’s business practices reflect her personal ethos of slowing down, living in the moment, and honouring Mother Nature.
In line with the belief that what we do now contributes to a better future, Avneet also runs block print classes for both children and adults. “We get visitors from all over the world wherein they want to learn block printing and I think that it’s such a lovely way. Most of the people who have done the classes eventually line up appreciating the art so much more than they thought, it’s so intense and so satisfying at the same time.” The block printing workshops run for around 5-6 hours. They teach everything from making the colours, to hand block printing their own art to wear and take home with them. “I think the more people who come and learn, it’s truly something that inspires them and they appreciate it,’ says Avneet, ‘And especially children, because I think with the fast fashion they are losing track of how things are really made with hand. When we do classes with children I think it’s amazing the way they interpret how they want to do things beautifully, and somewhere along the line maybe they take up this in their careers.”
By mass producing fake replicas, fast fashion impacts the practice of traditional art. This is why supporting slow fashion contributes to a greater future in so many ways. Avneet’s dedication to keeping the art of hand block printing alive is truly inspiring. There is so much love that goes into each and every garment when it is created with loving intent. From supporting local artisans and their families, to preserving a local tradition, as well as the future of our internal and external environments collectively. This is one of the many reasons why we love supporting this beautiful artform, to help women like Avneet empower others to work in alignment with their core beliefs and values. “It’s just something we love doing”, says Avneet. A beautiful and gentle reminder that doing what we love really can make a difference.
(words by Ella Josephine Archer)