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Studio Floral Vacation Shirt.

Someone holds a wooden block with sakura blossoms carved into it.
A block printed shirt sits on a printing table with patterns and a hand written note.
A photo of Matisse's studio with large pieces of artwork taped to a wall.

Photos: Amit Sihag

During the early days of quarantine, we stumbled across an old photo of French painter Henri Matisse’s studio at the Villa le Rêve in Vence, where he lived from 1943 to 1949. The walls of the studio were covered from floor to ceiling with forms and figures made of vibrant paper cutouts. We were inspired by one of these compositions in particular which featured a series of flowers surrounded by a wobbly border. This resulted in the creation of one of our favorite shirts for the SS22 season. Aptly named “Studio Floral,” this shirt features the same cherry blossom pattern and wavy border running along the front placket of the shirt. While the inspiration behind this shirt is special in itself, we are excited to share more about the expertise of our partner factory in India who helped turned our ideas into reality. 

Our factory talks over the different challenges on how to execute this shirt.
An artisan's hands carefully align a wooden block to print fabric.

Each component of the design is stamped by hand using hand carved wooden blocks. What makes this shirt even more special is that each shirt’s sewing pattern is traced onto the fabric before it is block printed, as opposed to block printing a repeating pattern on yards of fabric before cutting and sewing. Once this pattern is traced, the block printers continue by dipping the blocks in ink and meticulously stamping each part of the pattern along the placket and bottom hem of the shirt. This part of the process highlights the immense skill of the artisans who perfectly align the print at each seam of the shirt. After the stamping is done and the ink sets into the fabric, the patterns can be cut and sewn into the shirts. What this results in is a shirt that is finished perfectly: every print terminates properly at a seam and does not have caked-up ink from printing post construction.

A man stamps pink artwork onto tan fabric using a wooden block.
An artisan measures a black wavy print to ensure proper placement.

When conceptualizing this shirt, we weren’t even sure if our factory would be willing to attempt a process this labor-intensive - but like so many previous occasions for us, they stepped up to the plate and exceeded every expectation. We are incredibly proud of this shirt as it incorporates both our artistic influences, which shine through in many of the garments we produce, along with our newfound potential for handmade artisanship through our partner factory in India. Our relationship with this factory has been pivotal to our growth these past few years, as it has allowed us to embark on ideas that weren’t possible with our production capacities at the time. From meticulous block printing, to hand screening, to intricate dyeing techniques and hand-loomed textiles, this partnership has opened up a new realm of production techniques which has in turn broadened our horizons.

An artisan tests different colors to ensure the proper mix.
A man wears the finished studio floral shirt against an amber backdrop.

Beyond everything that went into producing the shirt, we love how easy it is to wear. The pattern really sets the shirt off, easily making it the statement piece when incorporated in an outfit. The two colorways of the shirt have two slightly different base fabrics to best complement the print color: yhe black version is block printed on a tan base fabric, while the pink shade - inspired by the work of Mexican architect Luis Barrágan - appears on a lighter, natural undyed base fabric. Both are incredibly versatile and can be worn open with a plain tee or buttoned up with the collar left open. The fabric drapes super nicely while maintaining a lighter, flowy feel that is perfect for warmer months. The shirt arrives in store this Friday and releases online next Monday, June 13th.  

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