Photos: Amit Sihag
Last month, we had the opportunity to journey to India - specifically, Jaipur - to meet with a partner factory that we have been working together with for over two years now. We began our first project right before COVID struck in 2020, and as the world began to shut down we were receiving test prints and fit samples of this shirt in the mail before they finally went into lockdown as well.
By now, you’re probably aware that we produce a pretty wide range of our seasonal collection in India. Everything that we make there is handled by this specific factory. They cut and sew all our garments, but they also work directly with block printers, screen printers, hand loom weavers, and natural dyers to execute all the crazy ideas that we bring to them. Their generational experience in the textile industry - specifically, in a part of India that is renowned for fabric printing and garment production - has given us access to a world of techniques, applications and opportunities. And all that we’ve been able to accomplish, over the past two years, was done via email, phone, and WhatsApp chats. Headed by the factory owner, Ankit, and assisted by our production manager, Kanchan (the real boss), we entered this relationship as their smallest client but you'd never guess that by the care and attention they've given to us since day one.
This spring we finally made plans to travel to Jaipur and meet with the team that has been working so hard to bring our ideas to fruition in a way that would make us - and hopefully you - inspired. We'll never forget the first day as we walked the factory floor wearing the garments they had sewn for us in seasons past, and getting to chat with the floor managers and the sewers who broke out into big smiles when they recognized the clothes we had on. Having the opportunity to thank the people who worked on the clothing and seeing the pride they took in their work was a special experience.
The opportunity to be fully immersed in Jaipur for a week also left a lasting impression: the people, the food, the smells, the colors, the textures all remain with us. Around every corner, we found a deep, ingrained value of handwork from hand-carved doorways to painted pushcart signage. The photos above were shot by Amit Sihag, who we’ve built a working relationship with over the past two years remotely as we sent him on assignment to document the work that’s being done on our behalf in Jaipur and beyond. But after spending three days with him - as he brought us to see parts of the city that tourists never get access to or take the time to discover, while sharing with us his thoughts on India, the fashion industry, public policy and beyond - we left with a much deeper appreciation for the country that has brought so much vibrance to our design efforts over the past few years.
Our lead designer, Wesley Scott, shared some thoughts on our visit:
“This recent trip to Jaipur left me feeling very grateful - most notably, for our partnership with our factory. From the start, I’ve found them to be completely unlike any other factory we’ve ever worked with. They believe in us as a brand and they also believe strongly in the product. Our partnership has evolved over the years into something that feels closer to a collaboration rather than the usual transactional nature of brand and producer, and this trip brought really brought everything into focus for me. Having the opportunity to tour the facilities, meet the team, share meals, and work closely together proved just how focused, caring, and talented everyone there is. We spent days visiting fabric markets, dyers, and block printers which allowed us to design items that we would have never conceptualized without engaging with these techniques firsthand. There’s a lot of amazing product coming soon that we are very excited to share.
With that said, I’m also grateful for the ability to experience the wonders of Indian handcraft firsthand. Seeing how much pride artisans take in their work left me inspired and gave me a renewed sense of excitement for the work that we do. With each visit to the craftsmen, we engaged in a collaboration to find the best ways to accomplish our ideas, oftentimes deferring to their expertise. This sometimes involved a lot of tests, back and forth, and constant communication, but the results were always better than expected.”