By Ritu Jadwani at University of Copenhagen, Denmark
Ritu Jadwani, former professor of Fashion & Sustainability at the University of Delaware in United States, presented at the Old Textiles, New Possibilities conference held by the Centre for Textile Research at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark in June of 2021. Jadwani’s talk focused on “Cultural Heritage Practices of Recycling In India” where she highlighted the craft clusters that recycle fabrics to re-create a unique product.
Recycling practices are very popular in the villages of Kutch in Gujarat to make one-of-a-kind quilts; in Kolkatta, West Bengal to create beautifully hand embroidered Kantha scarves; and in northern India to handcraft colorful rugs from fabric scraps.
Sustainability is the backbone of cultural recycling practices in India in the textile and apparel industry. Skilled female and male artisans handcraft quilts, scarves, rugs, accessories, fabric beads, and saris through hand sewing and embroidery using various techniques. Jadwani has been working with the skilled artisans in Gujarat during the last 13 years to create products from traditional textiles and fabric scraps and generate employment opportunities for artisans to sustain the crafts and textiles of the region. Her initiative is called Namaste NYC.
Jadwani’s talk was attended by about 150 people who were from Denmark, Latvia, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Italy, India, and various other countries. The talk was held virtually through Zoom (considering the Covid-19 pandemic) as part of the Reuse, Repair, and Redesign section of the conference on day 2.
During the discussion, there were some questions by the participants as below:
Yes, mixing is very popular now. Due to migration of artisans and awareness among people, designers and even artisans are mixing embroideries and crafts. So, now there is a mirror work with patch work tunic; and bandhani and batik are combined to create a unique sari. The artisan community believes in supporting each other, collaboration and sustenance—so they understood the art of combining crafts before the designers did!
Neckpiece handcrafted from recycled fabric patches and adorned with tassels.
Patch work cushion made from fabric scraps, intricately patched to create a unique color scheme.
Model wearing leheriya tie dye scarf with tassels made from fabric scraps.
Model wearing a necklace made from fabric beads created from recycled fabrics.
Ritu Jadwani, designer and former professor at University of Delaware in United States of America.
Model wearing one of a kind patched jacket crafted from fabric scraps.
Ritu is currently based in Ahmedabad and continues to work with artisans through her initiative Namaste NYC.