Journey of an Outfit: Ocean Bloom dress
With each collection we introduce, we always dedicate ourselves to growing and improving our craft and conscious intentions. Ocean Tide, our latest edit, marks the 9th Chapter in our SUI story and represents the greenest ideals that we’ve developed as of yet that we want to put out into the world.
And so, today, we wanted to share a little more about our behind-the-scenes by taking you through how we create one of our newest silhouettes, our OCEAN BLOOM DRESS.
Inspired by oceans and conscious living
The oceans have always been a muse for us at SUI. From the very start of our journey, you would often come across designs here and there that took inspiration from this vast force of nature. It still, and always will, hold a special place in our hearts and it felt natural that we would dedicate an entire edit to the seas.
From beachy shores to its hidden depths, we were set in creating a story that showed our appreciation for all it represents, a home to millions of marine species, a source of an endless list of resources that sustain human life, and, most importantly, a vital, indispensable part of our planet’s entire ecosystem. Although we cannot begin to express all of these thoughts and praise through every single piece of ours, we did our best to capture its essence through our designs so that our customers could carry a part of the oceans with them in their daily life.
Moreover, this season also presented an opportunity for us to reshape our intentions with this collection and every collection after. With this chapter, we focused on these particular notions: to consider the full journey of our pieces as well as move towards crafting classics that will remain with SUI in the long run, bringing new and old designs together in the form of capsules wherein each piece will find a way to compliment each other while also telling a unique story of its own.
To aid us in working towards this goal, we asked ourselves these question while designing:
1.Are our craft processes lessening our negative impact on the planet?
2.How does the piece impact our planet once it leaves our workshop?
3.Does the silhouette add value to our customers’ conscious closets?
So, with all this in mind, here’s a closer look at the steps we took to create our OCEAN BLOOM DRESS.
All about craft
Ethical vendors, artisans and crafters are at the core of our production. We always want human touch to be a key part of every design and so, whether it’s at the fabric processing stage or finishing, you will find that every SUI piece is handled directly by skilled craftsmen who pour their love of their art into every fibre and thread.
1.From fibre to fabric
Ocean Bloom is crafted in Kala cotton, one of our newer fabrics in that we have only been working with it for about a year, but has quickly become a favourite of ours and our community.
Our ethical vendor who provides this fabric for us is Khamir Crafts, “a joint initiative [created in 2005] of Kachchh Nav Nirman Abhiyan and the Nehru Foundation for Development.”
What makes this particular fibre special is how close to home it is. Kala cotton is a specific strain that is indigenous to India and has played a unique part in revitalising Kachchh’s rural economy.
A quick little history lesson:
“Kachchh has experienced rapid industrialisation since the 2001 earthquake. While the impact of big industry has its positives, it has adversely impacted cultural livelihoods and their endurance is now shrouded in uncertainty. The number of weavers in Kachchh has declined from over 2000 in the mid 1990s to only 600-700 in practice today. Small-scale weavers cannot buy raw materials in bulk, and face the greatest difficulties in integrating with changing markets. There was a clear need to develop a local value chain in order to insulate these weavers from external market fluctuations. To do this, a raw material was required that was locally grown, environmentally friendly, that had the potential to create social value.”
And so, Khamir played a part in creating the solution, that being Kala cotton production, that urged the local workforce to take part in.
Along with the socio-economic positives this fibre brings, Kala cotton has other green attributes:
-It is a hardy, resilient fibre that can grow in harsh conditions making it easily harvestable year round.
-It’s rain-fed meaning no water is wasted that could be used to drink, for example.
-The fabric is very durable so clothing made from it will last a very long time.
2.Creating our print motif
All our print motifs are designed in-house by team member and textile designer, Anukriti, and for this one particularly, she focused on the flying fish as her key design element.
Here she shares what she found in her research that shaped the print:
“Flying fish are tropical and temperate marine species that can be seen off both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. They are also found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. Open oceans provide a habitat for most flying fish, but some live instead on the outskirts of coral reefs.The tropics are so close to our heart and brand identity, we had to pick flying fish while we were brainstorming on the motifs for our Ocean Collection.
As the name suggests, yes, this fish can fly just above the water, unlike any other fish.
It’s thought that flying fish evolved a flying mechanism to escape from their many oceanic predators… its pectoral fins are highly modified “wings” that enable them to leap out of the water and glide above the surface. They travel together through the oceans in large schools. When they encounter a predator, the wings help them make a hasty escape. Some flying fish have been recorded performing 12 consecutive flights. This family of fish is quite abundant around the world; very few species are endangered.”
This season, Shankar, a hand block printer who’s been practicing the art since 1994, collaborated with us to bring Anukriti’s designs to life. He first created his own stitching unit in 2007 then a printing unit in 2014, he’s a plant lover, has his own kitchen garden and small field with a horse.
“The entire process of block printing starting from block making to washing of the finished product is my favourite thing. The best part of the entire process is maintaining the quality.” - Shankar
3.The final silhouette
After creating the fabric and applying the print, we come to the final stages which are all handled in our very own workshop based in New Delhi. Our team of threadspellers, which consists of a Master cutter, tailors, machine and hand embroiderers, put together the silhouette.
The look itself is actually a design we first introduced last summer and OCEAN BLOOM is an updated version of our Bougainvillea Blooms dress [left].
We decided to bring it back because of how much our community loved it the first time around as well as due to the versatility of the piece. The fit is relaxed and has a drawstring at the waist that can be easily adjusted so that it’s more cinched or loose depending on the wearer’s style, making it accessible to many.
Here are the steps taken at our workshop to create it:
-The silhouette is cut by Tahir, the Master.
-Tailors take over to stitch each of the pieces together.
-A production manager checks over every element.
-The piece is handed back to the tailors to correct any little alterations if needed.
-Final checks are performed.
We always want to be transparent with our community as to how we craft, valuing transparency and accountability is how we stay committed to our green values, and we hope this urges you to ask for the same from other brands too. Too often we’re ignorant of all the hidden impacts of our piece and it makes all the difference by being aware of all these stages in order to make more conscious fashion decisions.
You can learn more about us and journey so far through our blog posts or follow us on Instagram, we’ll see you soon with more green stories!