Few weeks ago I received an email of Fayakun Design Studio‘s latest collection ‘Sufaid’– true to its name the straight simple lines are constructed in pure white cotton from a particular loom in West Bengal, with hints of lime coloured cotton procured from Dastkaar Andhra which gives an ethereal look. With a quest for more apt clothing for this never-ending hot humid season, I eagerly took off to meet Padma Saldon and Aastha Vashisth at their studio where they proudly made me meet their skilled workers; which seemed like a page out of the latest ‘Fashion Revolution’ (an online campaign talking about the real creators behind the scenes, run by niche brands globally).
Fayakun (kun fayakun) I was educated by them, is an Arabic word referring to the act of manifesting, in Qur’an – the moment when Allah’s creativity comes into manifestation. Such(Fayakun/Sufaid) names lend an air of refinement and elegance to their work, due to Sufi influences like Aziz Mian, Sadri Brothers, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, etc.
Having studied fashion designing together at NIFT, Bangalore, these 20-somethings decided to be a part of a slow revolution started by the Indian artisans in the recent years- who take pride in flaunting the tagline ‘Made in India’ on their luxury labels. Its a fact that anything handmade puts less pressure on the workers and makes one derive pleasure even in the imperfections of the craft.
This groundwork was done by them last year, in June 2013, while exploring the length and breadth of Ladakh; region’s fascinating religions, social aspects, crafts and their traditional techniques which are all interlinked. The shepherds and the yarn spinners (few left using the back strapped loom) are their real heroes and partners in business, even with its disadvantages. It produces only a 4” width and is more time consuming, so is now only used to make rugs since the peddle loom has nearly overthrown it (inching towards its slow death). For the traditional spinners, yet stuck in a time warp, their loom is god. Everyday they rest it in a small pit once their work is over, and the next morning pray to it before beginning again. (Similar practices are seen in other parts of India by devout workers and craftsmen who pray for the smooth functioning of their tools and machines, since they are their source of livelihood e.g. Vishwakarma Day.)
To make the most of their precious time Padma and Aastha engaged the shepherdmen in gathering wool during summers while their women were busy earning their living through other outdoor activities. In the harsh winters when the females had more free time to spin wool, since they only tended to their families indoors, they were given an opportunity to earn again. Enjoying being hands-on, the girls also learnt the natural dyeing methods to dye wool for their very first collection, in winter 2013.
Here’s wishing Fayakun Design Studio all the wisdom, courage and compassion to successfully replicate a similar model in Sikkim (has the highest number of suicides committed by women in the recent years) in the near future and not just for their love of organic textiles and fashion!!!
Padma +91 9910578782