Drape this winter

tushar kumar

With parents having studied art at Santiniketan, one of India’s premier higher learning universities, at the time of Rabindranath Tagore; he was exposed to the best of Indian and western cultures. Tushar Kumar, even though an economics graduate was inclined towards assignments like the documentation of Saris of India (the book marigoldidary.com reviewed early this year) for the Ministry of Textiles. This stint increased his keenness of working with the Benaras weavers to produce some of the most magnificent brocades, always keeping in mind optimum technical recall as the buzzword for this luxury genre; with time the product always gains value.

Later the maverick in Tushar emerged with a social enterprise ‘LIVING BLUE’ for CARE Bangladesh by involving the poor to become part owners of the process. With only 120 women initially, it has apparently now grown leaps and bounds to around 12000 workers. Several years ago this indigo shibori quilting project created a benchmark in Japan, England and America with its museum-like pieces for people like Sally Campbell (a well-known handmade textile connoisseur) etc.

A stickler for perfection according to him true luxury is about comfort, simplicity, elegance with no frills. Tushar drew my attention to the artisans who need to be respected for anything HANDMADE as luxury cannot thrive in this discounted economy. Excited about his third winter production while maintaining connoisseur quality in 600-800 cashmere pieces per year; the textile aficionado’s Najibabad workshop within his residential compound, employs economically distressed Muslim women. He is successfully managing to pull them out of purdah for better salaries and working conditions during their training in terms of quality and innovation for a wet-felting technique.

His label specializes in limited edition scarves, stoles and shawls in various dimensions and weights. From lace-like Sheer Cobweb to the Serenity and the Empyrean range.These classics are almost sensual in nature and ideal for travellers due to their ultra lightweight and compact size.

The Sheer Cobweb’s epitomizes the avant-garde nature of the felting technique being pushed to its limits especially with the use of pure cashmere fiber. Even though they are the thinnest and lightest segment of his current collection, they retain their warmth and insulating properties. Because of their thinness, these cobwebs offer the best drape. The ‘cobwebs’ are characterized by random punctures and holes on the surface of the stole just like a spider’s web from where they get their generic name. These punctures occur naturally during the felting process creating a dramatic lace like transparency and adding a unique design element.

As compared to the Cobwebs, the Gossamers & Serenity offer a more toned bodily structure that instantly instills a feeling of comfort and contentment for the wearer.

While the Empyrean range varies in surface design concepts and attempts precision in deriving straight lines and circles which is labeled – ‘neo classic’; for its postmodern approach in felt making and producing many stunning pieces. 

The color palette is deliberately kept limited due to the use of only natural fibers from around the globe giving the product an identity and also drawing attention to the urgent need of preserving the depleting bio-diversity. The cashmere fiber color ranges from natural Ivory, Mink and Sable commonly known only as white, gray and fawn. With time the Mink and Sable colors are getting rare and are only available in limited quantities with the increase of the white fiber production.To accentuate the colors of cashmere they’ve used natural jet-black, deep and light browns derived from ‘baby’ Alpaca or sheared from the Yak. While the colors silver and gold come from mulberry silk and bamboo fiber for the zari thread specially commissioned for this collection.

With so much R&D going into the technique and design, obviously the 100% pure cashmere fibers from the Ladakh region of J&K cannot go uunoticed. They’re considered the finest in the world from Changthangi or the capra hircus laniger goats that inhabit the region. The fiber is unique due to its high moisture content that allows insulation properties to change with the relative humidity in the air – thus the product is warm in winters and cool in summers. The collection also uses other natural ‘Luxury Fibers’ such as Alpaca – or the Vicugna pacos – a domesticated species of South American Cameid and also Yak – or the Bos grunniens, a long-haired bovine found throughout the Himalayan region of south Central Asia. 

Ever since I’ve seen their woollen accessories at several exhibitions around the city, I’m eagerly waiting for their online collection which should be out soon. Till then keep these numbers handy for any more queries +91 9412216777/+91 9412714555. But if you’re a serious buyer he might oblige you with their product portfolio through email-bayabird@gmail.com

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