By Sonica Kapur

Most of us have heard of ikat – an ancient Indian textile that brings to mind adjectives like vintage, hand woven, geometric or “that zig zag arrow pattern”. But this ancient textile is all the rage in 2014. For those of you curious enough to learn more, here is your guide to what ikat is, how it’s made, and most importantly, where to buy it!

WHAT IS IKAT?

Ikat is a century’s old textile, historically made all over Asia, Central Asia and some parts of Africa. Ikat is hand dyed, hand woven, and made using both silk and cotton yarns. I have a long running romance with ikat textiles and was introduced to ikat weaving during one of my many visits to Pochampally outside Hyderabad, one of the few textile centers in India where ikat is made, in addition to Orissa and Gujarat. Learning how these textiles are made was an unforgettable experience, some of which I’d like to share here.

 weaving 1

HOW IS IKAT MADE?

First the ikat pattern is drawn by hand onto the fabric yarns, before they are woven. Both the warp and the weft {the vertical and horizontal yarn of fabric respectively} are tied and dyed according to the pattern. Then the yarn is strung onto looms and woven by hand. The tie dye patterns evident in the yarns are now enmeshed as they are woven together, and a symphony of colours and motifs emerge in the woven fabric. Historically, these motifs had social and cultural significance, but artists today are using the technique of ikat to create contemporary patterns and artworks. So while an ancient piece of ikat textile might belong on the walls of a craft museum, the ikats of today, in bright colours and edgy patterns, can be paired with this season’s skinny jean!

 weaving 2

 

WHERE DO I BUY SOME AUTHENTIC IKAT?

A lot has changed in the design and colours of ikat, but one thing that remains unchanged is that even today, wearing ikat is like wearing a hand crafted piece of art that tells a story. For those of you itching to get your hands on your very own piece of authentic ikat at a price that doesn’t break the bank, here is my curated list of designers doing magnificent ikat collections. We’ve steered clear of the faux ikats, the polyesters and the ikat inspired prints; this list is the real deal!

tie dye yarn

 

TRANSLATE

translate

A concept clothing label started by Vinita Passary, Translate works with local ikat artisans to create contemporary clothing that’s chic and easy to wear. Each piece recreates traditional ikat motifs in a minimalistic fashion to create some great summer wear.

Where: Ogaan, 77, Khan Market, Middle Lane; Contact: 91-11-41757220; For more information, click here.

Price: Starts at INR 4,500

NAPPA DORI

Nappa Dori

Who doesn’t love Nappa Dori’s handcrafted leather accessories. But they’ve upped the ante by combining their usual luxurious handcrafted leather with ikats in classic shades, to create a truly retro modern collection.

Where: Available online at nappadori.com; Also at Nappa Dori, Shop No. 25, Meharchand Market, Lodhi Road {011 – 24622599} and Nappa Dori, Shop No. 4, Inner Lane, Hauz Khas Village {011 – 26563384}

Price: Starts at INR 5,500

NORBLACKNORWHITE

NBNW

The Canadian-Indian designers Mriga Kapadiya and Amrit Kumar use ikats seamlessly to fit into their neo pop ethos. From jumpers to kimono jackets, visit this collection to own some unusual ikat pieces.

Where: Available here.

Price: Starts at INR 3,210

ANURADHA RAMAM

anuradha ramam

Designer Anuradha Ramam blends bold motifs and colours with heritage techniques like ikat to create timeless pieces, while also employing artisan communities. From comtemporay ikat sarees, to dresses, bags and accessories, her collection truly puts ikat to a myriad uses.

Where: Available at the flagship store at 89, Meherchand Market, Lodhi Road {+91 11 26165401, 32064121} and the newly opened store at 141/1 Shahpur Jat {011 41437611}

Price: Starts at INR 1,500

BRASSTACKS

kjnvkjnvk

True to its name, Brasstacks is all about going back to basics. Shop here for some great everyday wear pieces in ikat that integrate seamlessly into work wear or a casual wardrobe. And the price points are great!

Where: Available here.

Price: INR 1,000 {on sale}

VRIKSH

VRIKSH

Vriksh is an alternative design studio based in Orissa. Founder Gunjan Jain revives some long forgotten Orissa ikat weaves to create show stopping statement sarees. Bespoke sarees are available on order.

Where: To view their full collection and to order, click here.

Price: On request

HOUSE OF QIDWA

jknbkjg,nbgk

A couture brand started by documentary filmmaker Yasmin Kidwai, House of Qidwa is inspired by the Sufi sense of freedom and expression. Their ikat tunic silhouettes are free flowing and luxurious.

Where: Shop their tunics here; Connect with them on Facebook here.

Price: INR 4,600 onwards

WE – NATURE AND ME

We nature and me

An eco friendly brand designed by Danisha Nathyal that revives traditional textiles effortlessly through her modern design aesthetic. Her ikat collection is young, fresh and ready to go!

Where: Available here.

Price: Ikat pieces start at INR 2,100

ANURADHA RAMAM

anuradha ramam bags Yes I cheated, but these guys need to be on this list again! Got to show them some more love for their uber cool ikat bags! They brighten up any outfit, Indian or Western.

Where: Available at the flagship store at 89, Meherchand Market, Lodhi Road {+91 11 26165401, 32064121} and the newly opened store at 141/1 Shahpur Jat {011 41437611}. Also check out their website here.

Price: Start at INR 2,800