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Weaving a heritage

Keeping craft alive

The skills and steady handwork of the craftspeople with whom we collaborate require time - their precision demonstrating an innate respect for the resources the artisans rely on, in turn allowing us to avoid waste and over-production.

We include hand-woven fabrics and other traditional craft techniques in each of our collections - the time and consideration with which this weaving is carried out imbues each piece with intention. There has never been a more prescient time to embrace the slow, considered means of producing inherent in craftsmanship.

We turned to our partners, located in Gurgaon, India to reflect on what it means to produce garments and home textiles by hand such as those they have developed for our SS20 collection; to delve deeper into what inspires them and how they hope to see a respect for craftsmanship survive into the future.

When did your studio first start weaving fabrics on a handloom?

We bought our first loom in 2011 for experimentation in weaving. Our inspiration was to weave ourselves a heritage – and so our studio was born!

Our Master Weaver had relocated to Delhi at the time in the hope of working at the mills to support his income. By chance we happened to connect with him via the mills, and as they did not have work for the skills he had we immediately hired him for our studio - the Master weaver was so talented that his craft and our design vision was a perfect match. Since then we have been able to develop our heritage and have since amassed a growing archive of weaves, structures and yarns. Through weaving we finally found a medium to express ourselves.

Is there a personal heritage behind the weaving you do or is it inspired by the cultural heritage of India?

It is a combination of both the cultural heritage of India and our own personal histories that inspires our weaving. My father is a Textile Engineer with his own 40-year-old design archives. We started an onward journey to explore it further and this inspired us to develop our own processes. My wife, Sunanda is a Textile Designer and has contributed equally in materializing our studio, so it is most definitely a combined legacy of the traditional craft and our idea of contemporary textile design.

'Through weaving we finally found a medium to express ourselves.'

Hand-weaving is an inherently sustainable method of producing. How important for you is the low environmental impact of producing clothing by hand from yarn to finished garment?

Our goal is to leave zero carbon footprint from the textiles we produce. We are currently training old and new weavers - teaching new techniques and exploring many possibilities for design development, working alongside Master Craftsmen and various weaving centres to inform this ongoing innovation. We are always learning.

Hemp is anti-microbial, which is a unique property unlike any other fibre. This makes it the ideal yarn for producing sustainable textiles.

Hemp Plant is 100% consumed and leaves no waste as every part of the plant is processed: seeds are used for oil; roots for pharmaceuticals and compost; the stalk for fibre and fabrics such as those we weave in our studio; and leaves for medicine and recreation. To us, these characteristics make Hemp a clear choice and a practical solution for ethically sourced, natural textiles.

We hear that each loom in your studio had been named after an Indian river. Can you explain the significance of this?

Our looms are named after holy rivers of India in honour of the energy and life it brings to the region. The rivers not only allow the natural habitats to flourish but it also reminds us of the grandeur of nature and reinforces our connection to it.

The Bamford Hemp Ladder Cushions were made on these looms named after the rivers.

Ganga: Considered the most sacred river in Hindu scriptures, it is also worshipped as the Mother Ganga. Most of our weavers come from city next to Ganga river so there is also a personal connection to this loom.

Saraswati: The goddess Saraswati (goddess of knowledge) is the personification of this river: the significance is that all new experimentation and development we do is made on this loom, helping us grow our knowledge of the craft whilst staying true to its origins.

Sabarmati: The West flowing river. Mahatma Gandhi established Sabarmati Ashram as his home on the banks of this river - this has a great significance due to Mahatma Gandhi who is also known as father of our nation and a pioneer of the hand-weaving movement in India.

Narmada: This river is the lifeline of central India and therefore considered a sacred river.

Indus: Responsible for flourishing of Indus civilization.

Brahmaputra: The warping roll, flows wide and the longest river. The warp of this loom in weaving is similar to a continuous flow of river - a blessing to produce the best fabric.

You also produce tie-dyed fabrics and garments. Can you tell us a bit more about the tradition of tie-dying and how that translates into how you work with this craft in the present day?

The loveheart tie-dye design we developed for the Bamford spring-summer collection is a nostalgic design for how it reconnects us to the traditional craft - the shape and design brings up so much emotion. Tie Dye is an age-old craft, and a huge part of Indian culture. The artisans inherit the skill and intelligence by way of a legacy and likewise they pass it on to future generations.

Delhi is a bit different from craft centres - the craftsmen living in Delhi tend to be working multiple jobs as well as performing their craft, but the skill and set-up is unaffected by this. Depending on the volume of work, they can be flexible and become more active with their craftwork. During off-seasons the craftsmen switch to other jobs for their main source of income as now Tie Dye has become a seasonal craft.

'First we develop and prepare the hand-woven fabric that will be dyed. We then give the designs of Tie & Dye to the craftsmen, from which they can analyse the fabric, tie the fabric to the required pattern and mix the color of the dye as per the Pantone match. After tying the pattern by hand, the dye penetration is checked on the fabric and then the piece is dyed. That is how the heart design was created for the Bamford Loveheart Wrap.'