India dominated the global textile trade from antiquity until the industrial revolution of the late 19th century. The aesthetics that originated in India have endured, just modified by a bit. They have helped reshape major design vocabularies in the world. French Kimono, Trance Hippy style, Ivy Seersuckers have all from India. If we look keen, there are examples of Indian origin designs that is both aesthetic and technical. The Indian story is the story of culture and giving- India has given the world so much more than we know or think about.
Ikat Printing takes in a very rare form of printing. The patterns are tie-dyed on to yarns before weaving, which leads to the longish ‘flame’ like patterns develop on the fabric. It is said that the technique emerged thousands of years ago, but India has mastered the art like no other place. In 12th century, ‘double ikat‘ or ‘Patola‘ was being produced in Patan, Gujarat. In the 18th century, French borrowed the style and made a type of ikat on silk by printing warp yarns.
Paisley is one of the most popular pattern across the world, it became a sensation when Kashmiri artists turned the stylizes pine-cone motifs from ancient Persia into ‘fine’ Pashmina Shawls. It became a sensation in Europe in the late 18th century amongst the women and the mills began producing them using the newly jacquard loom. It replaced the handiwork of the weaver as it used to process in India.
The similarity between a person walking in the streets of Kolkata and a Wall Street Banker is what? Apart from all the human tendencies, the shirt fabric pattern is what is common. They both might be wearing Madras Plaid. This cotton checked fabric from down south in India. New England’s best schools took this style for their student uniforms. In 1718, East India Company governor of Madras, Elihu Yale sent a shipment of cloth to a school at his Connecticut home as a gift. This school was later named as Yale University where along with other elite schools of Europe in the 1920s, Madras Plaid became a symbol of American privilege.
Archaeological advances have found out that silk generation and manufacturing existed in the Indus Valley Civilization as early as 2450 BC, predating the silk manufacturing in China. The much acclaimed khinkhwab cloth used a technique of silk twisted with gold or silver. This technique is now very much associated with Varanasi and is a popular choice as Banarasi Saree, dupatta and other apparel products. It was initially an elite product and was exported to Babylon before the Maurya empire even. It contributed much to the idea of Indian grandeur and opulence.
Indian Indigo dyeing was famous throughout the reachable ancient world, from Rome to China. The oldest evidence of this fabric comes from Mohenjo Daro in Sindh, a statue from 2500-1500 BC was found of a kind-priest wearing a resist dyed shawl. Textile fragments discovered in Egypt say a lot about a flourishing trade in Gujarat during the Mamluk Sultanate (1250-1517). This name, batik is of Indonesian origin however.
Europeans when they arrived in the 17th century, were awed by the block prints of Kalamkari on cotton in the Coromandel Coast. The demand of kalamkari cloth upset the trade balance and eventually European traders took it to printing, replicating the design and replaced the kalam and used block printing process in the industry. These, some designs evolved into the block floral patterns called English Chintz today.
The tag of WASPS (White Anglo- Saxon Protestants), originated originally in India. The name has its meaning in Indo-Persian, meaning milk and sugar. This is a reference to the puckered effect of the fabric’s stripes. The first use in the US was to replace the heavy flannels in men’s suits- to make it more compatible with the Southern heat. That is how the Seersucker was born, the summer suit of USA.