Beginning of this year I traveled the first time to Gujarat and the Kutch district, India’s western state bordering Pakistan, known for its crafts, particularly the beautiful and ancient craft of hand embroidery. There are at least sixteen distinct styles of traditional Kutch embroidery, practiced by nine different communities. Each style has its own lexicon of stitches and motifs, and is intrinsically connected to the environment, to the livelihood, the cultural patterns and natural world specific to the community it belongs to.
There I had the chance to get to know Shrujan – a not-for-profit organisation, which stands for craft revival and craft entrepreneurship. I immediately felt my goosebumps when I saw these breathtaking embroideries thinking of how to integrate them into our urban or western lifestyle and there was no doubt to instantly start working with them to above all support them in preserving living and cultural heritage.
Shrujan is a story of courage and creativity: in 1969 Chanda Shroff set up this organisation as a charitable trust and has been since then a pioneer in reviving the embroidery traditions of Kutch helping craftswomen use their skills to secure a home-based and sustainable means of livelihood. Starting with a group of thirty women in a single village, Shrujan today works with more than 3000 craftswomen in over 120 villages in Kutch and neighbouring Banaskantha. Their hand embroidered textiles are fashioned into high quality garments and lifestyle products for urban and international markets. The craftswomen’s lives have also been transformed, and many of them are now able to invest in land, and ensure education and health care for their families.
Shrujan also has created a unique resource in the form of 1.082 panels of hand embroidery, representing sixteen styles, by women belonging to nine different communities. A mobile exhibition of these panels, called the Design Center on Wheels, travels from village to village so craftswomen can take pride in their rich heritage, be motivated to enhance their skills and also learn about their styles of embroidery different from their own.
Together with Chanda’s granddaughter I designed a summer tunic collection with traditional MUTWA embroidery. It consists of two styles (OLIVIA & ELINA – named after my youngest nieces) both featuring lightweight cotton and colorful embroidery and standing for the perfect way to keep cool without baring any skin on hot days. Whether you slip it over your swimsuit or wear it as a dress on urban days these tunics are a timeless jet set investment and a must for everyone planing a global getaway. Find them here.
HENCE, DO GOOD! WHEN YOU BUY THIS PRODUCT YOU, TOO, MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR RURAL CRAFTSPEOPLE TO EARN A SUSTAINABLE LIVELIHOOD, YOU AFFIRM THEIR RIGHT TO LIVE WITH DIGNITY AND YOU HELP SAFEGUARD A LIVING HERITAGE!