Ryouko Haraguchi named her label Sind because her first store resembled a fluffy cotton ball, reminding her of the region- Sind, in Pakistan, known for its cotton. Methinks it could also be an influence of the ‘Sindworkis’ connection with Japan in the mid 20th century, when they had substantial control over the Japanese silk trade .
‘Sind Haath Heart’ is an exhibition which has been coming to india since the past 7 yrs. Its classic Japanese clothing patterns are cut on traditional Indian textiles using techniques such as Parsimmon overdyeing, Itajime Shibori and Kamiko – paper clothing with Indian dyeing and stitchwork. While this year its exhibiting at Kamala, New Delhi and will also be at the Artisans, Mumbai.
Ryouko’s interest in art clearly surfaced while majoring in it. That’s when her liking for Batik grew as a hobby. Though after that she went back to her hometown, Fukuka, Japan. And, later at some point she attended a Textile school in Tokyo, for 3 years.
From thereon, she worked with Toray Corporation, in their Fibers and Textiles business for 8 yrs. This opportunity widened her imagination like never before. And so she joined Muji (Japanese retail company which sells household and consumer goods in minimalistic designs, with emphasis on recycling, avoiding waste while production and packaging, and a no-logo policy) as an advisor. Sourcing fabrics for them, she visited India for the first time 30 yrs ago.
All her clothes are designed by pattern makers in Tokyo and manufactured in Delhi. These ‘collages’ as she describes them, are constructed in Chiffon, Silk Dupion, Taffeta Tussar, Silk Organza, Silk Cotton and Tripura Cotton for winters. When asked, she carefully chose 3 words to describe her clothing – comfortable, natural and elegant in subdued shades of green, blue, red, grey and brown. Calling them ‘trendy crafty’ apparel, she informs being greatly inspired by the Japanese traditional wear; for instance the peasant style baggy pants, kimono etc. But what caught my eye was her stitchwork and detailing.
Here, machine stitching is strategically used to piece cotton and silk together or silk and handmade kozo paper uniquely, to form embroidered fabrics. But the main embroidered patterns are all created by experienced workers, freehand. Ryouko sees to it that the individuality of each worker is apparent in each finished piece, and feels the same cannot be matched by any embroidery machine.
There is also a Kota Saree Knit made with kota saree cut into strips and stitched into tubes which are loosely knitted together with wool, to add some spice. For the finished garment these squares and rectangular pieces are simply tacked together.
18 yrs have gone by when she met a small family running a dying workshop in the suburbs of Delhi. Their first work for her was a hand woven silk dyed in light blue ombre. The outcome of which overwhelmed her so much that she wrapped it around herself that evening and went to sleep. For the love of god, she couldn’t fathom how the dyer so easily arrived at the swatch color, without measuring the chemical dyes.
Nostalgia set in, while remembering their years of working together, grabbing a bite during lunch with the dyer’s family, and continuing till late in the evenings. And on hot summer days, cooling off with an icy cold towel draped over her shoulders.
“All these processes are hard and laborious, but the satisfaction I get from the finished piece is very heart-warming.” stated Ryouko Haraguchi who alongside our talk was engaged with fashion students’, patiently answering their queries on her novel body of work.
“Be not afraid of going slow, be afraid of standing still”- Japanese proverb