We spent several days with the dyers over at Indigenous, the master dyer Rizwan and his two young colleagues Sanjay and Anil enthusiastically showed us the dying techniques and the different botanical ingredients that make up the different colourings. We worked alongside them to discuss and trial out the different hues for our collection, sampling shades of indigo, greys and black.
Whilst visiting, Indigenous were in the midst of an exciting centre rebuild - expanding both the manufacturing and dying areas for the employees, so the place was a little chaotic and full of rubble however this didn't deter them from dying and continuing their habitual practise.
They used pomegranate’s, recycled iron and jaggery sugar to create our required deep tones, all of which go through a lengthily process first working out quantities of ingredients for our chosen colours, boiling the dyes, soaking the cloth and washing to ensure colour fastness.
The employees are all local to Ahmedabad and have learnt to dye fabrics from generations of family and traditions, however a lot of the dying in the area is synthetic and they discussed with us how they’re proud and enjoyed learning to use natural dyes, the colours they created and the better impacts they had towards using on their own wellbeing over synthetics.
As much as Natural dyes are inherently traditional to India, much of these natural materials and techniques have been lost in modern times due to mass manufacturing. Indigenous wants to maintain and sustain the natural methods passed through the communities.
They discussed how Indigenous has become a big family to them, one where they rely on not only income but support with welfare issues. In India employment is often more than just work, they invest in their staff on a personal level as much as the quality of work they produce.
They rely on their managers to additionally help them with family issues, extended money concerns and health care, we really adored this idea of community support and happiness.
We really enjoyed spending time with the three dyers, getting to know them on a personal level, as well as their talent in dying our clothes. Although language is a barrier with broken Hindi and English both being spoken the language of kindness, happiness and lots of hand gestures always prevailed. They were all very cheeky and clearly content whilst dying, singing, laughing, play music and with lots of chai breaks.
They believed dying was like a form of meditation to them, with the mindful process of submerging the cloth in water over and over, ringing the fabric dry and then hanging the cloth in the sun once finished.
It’s a process where they see the fruits of their work and appreciate the slow yet beautiful practise. This has only made us value the process behind our clothing more and resonates with us knowing the lives it effects and benefits.