In between several big fat Indian weddings, with colour and bling taking the centre stage, for me Karin Kock’s simple organic and handcrafted clothes for new borns – 2 yr olds, at the recent Dastkar Mela, in New Delhi, was a serious antidote. Initially while speaking to her about her reasons to settle in India, I couldn’t stop admiring the Swede’s sparkling blue eyes and her calm demeanor. Being old-fashioned, slow paced, warm and undeniably a treasure trove of living crafts and culture, India reminds her of her grandmother’s chest of drawers which were full of antique lace, embroideries, hats, dresses, shoes, et al with tales to tell.
Sunbird is a label run by this Chelsea College of Art, Textile Design graduate, who consciously adheres to fair trade for the rural artisans employed by her in South India and weaves it products with GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton yarn. It was recently that I watched an online discussion between Jaggi Vasudev, the mystic and Donna Karan, the American designer, in which the raison d’être behind preserving indigenous weaves was indirectly, spirituality. He suggested that the elite should have atleast 20% handmade items in their wardrobe specially since it is a piece of art which needs patronage. For him, its not being just a product but ‘an outpouring of a humanbeing’; and I couldn’t agree more.
Giving allegiance to similar ideology Karin is a follower of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, ‘The Father of Modern Yoga’ and a yoga teacher, herself. The last book she read was ‘Become Healthy or….Extinct!’, by Darryl D’Souza (a healer from Goa) which she read cover to cover without putting down during her entire train journey from Delhi to South India. The book is about natural health therapies which are used to cure chronic physical illnesses. Infact, the lady is now contemplating on relocating to Auroville, Pondicherry (a city open to people of all nationalities to realize unity and sustainable living) to be away from the maddening traffic and pollution of the Indian capital and solve her visa problems. I could sense her empathetic nature as she mentioned in the passing how the colony’s stray dogs were her main concern to reconsider it as she couldn’t do without walking and looking after them, every day.
Speaking more, she told me how the ladies’ favourite pastime during her grandmother’s days was all about playing the piano or making fancy home accessories and clothes (like a social commentary out of a Jane Austen novel). Set in the beautiful Swedish countryside, Karin’s house has a loom and a knitting machine. Childhood memories of walking through the forests, playing in the snow or swimming in the sea with family and close friends are the ones she will cherish forever. Every year she visits Sweden for atleast two weeks, or more, to relive the past.
She has purposely used solid dull pastels of green, purple, pink and red for her clothing, as the warp and weft of white and another colour, gives it some breathing space for minimal hand embroidery. Her eco-friendly capsule collections are primarily aimed at people who live and let live a high life,incognito!