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Jharcraft silk production

Since we have not only used the Malkha cotton for our collection, but also the organic silk from Jharcraft, it was important for our concept to know a little more about the story behind this fabric. Therefore I recently went for a weekend to Ranchi, the capitol of the Jharkhand state, to do some research and shoot some photo’s for our project.

I was most impressed by the small village of Sithio, where men and women work on processing the silk yarns into fabric. Also many girl were eductated there on various types of handicrafts.

Developments in the Indian textile & apparel industry


The question if India will become the world’s economist superpower is a very beloved one. Some economists predict that India’s growth will outpace China by 2014 and others claim that it could even upstage the U.S. by the year 2025. 
 

Whenever this is going to happen or not, fact is that the Indian economy is booming. The textile and apparel exports grew with a percentage of 22.5 year-on-year in August 2010, while imports over the same period grew by 32.2 percent.

 These are amazing figures, especially when you have a look at the relative short timeline in which this has all been accomplished. As a result, the question amongst us rises ifthe country is able to deal with such a growth and moreover, how the country is able to deal with it. To answer this question, it is necessary to take a closer look at the characteristics of the Indian clothing industry and see what their current strategy is.

In the past, India has been facing many issues and problems in the textile and apparel sector, such as obsolescence, working conditions, restrictive government regulations and a severe lack of modernization.

Nowadays this is changing and the main advantages of the industry are the strong production of raw materials, skilled manpower, a young and growing workforce and low wage costs. But this last advantage has been threatened by the competition of even lower cost countries, such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia. In order to withstand this growing competition and to distinguish itself from other players in the market, India is busy adopting another, new strategy.

 Therefore the main challenge for the textile sector at the moment is to invest in innovation and modernization rather than further growth. The Indian government is keenly aware of this phenomenon and invests lots of money in the textile industry in order to keep the business up-to-date, as well as in the area of technology as this of design. The 2007’s National Design Policy has set up a plan to reach a 1,000% growth in design-related export products over the coming eight years.

 As a consequence, the ability to understand consumers and adapt to fashion trends is becoming more and more important for India and this will possibly become the unique selling point of the country in the future, setting the Indian textile and apparel industry apart from cheaper manufacturing countries.

 Nevertheless, many steps need to be taken in order to reach that point, implementing such a new strategy is a big challenge. Does the Indian textile industry have the capacity and the ability to set its focus on design and innovation? A complicated issue and obviously the opinions about this subject are diverse.

Over the last few weeks, we have visited a variety of textile manufacturers in Gurgaon, a place near Delhi where many factories and headquarters are based. There we have indeed noticed the fact that most of these companies are trying to become more and more design-focused. The greater part of the visited factories has for example a design team in-house.

 


The design team develops a broad range of styles, based on findings abroad (mostly Europe and the U.S.), fashion magazines and various fashion blogs. They try to imagine and understand the western taste of design and implement this within their designs in order to propose and sell these to their customers. We have been told that many big American and European brands incorporate their manufacturers’ designs into their own collection or either chooses to pick a few elements and mix these within their own designs.

From my experience so far,  I can definitely say that I feel the attempt of the Indian apparel and textile industry in becoming more innovative and design focused. As one of the manufacturers told us, “We make sure that we understand our western customers. We know what they want and our task is simply to prepare for that.”

Nevertheless it is hard to make a judgement about the kind of level on which they cooperate and whether they are able to fully understand the western taste and notion of design. And even more interesting, how this development will continue in the next coming years. Therefore time is probably the only one who will be able to tell us.

Lonneke Schaap. 

Sources used:
www.mudpie.com
www.indiaabroad.com

A conversation with Tjaco Walvis

 

A few weeks ago Frits and I got in contact with Tjaco Walvis. Tjaco wrote the book ‘Branding with Brains’, which is about marketing, consumer behaviour and its relation to neuroscience.

We thought, since he is Dutch, working in marketing and recently moved to Delhi for this, a conversation with him would be a good start for our research on Indian consumer behaviour for the DutchDFA.

He was kind enough to welcome us at his office in Gurgaon, just outside of Delhi. Our conversation was mainly about cultural differences and the fact that for doing objective research, we should try not to compare a foreign culture, with our own. Values differ from one culture to another and there is not just one truth.

He made us realize even more that we shouldn’t judge, but observe, which is difficult, but necessary.

After our conversation he gave us both a copy of his recently published and highly interesting book: ‘Branding with Brains’.

 

Mitch Martens

 

 

This man is sizing the warp next to his home in Chirala, Andhra Pradesh. Together with his complete family he is in the warping and sizing business. after this process, the warp will be transported to one of the home weavers in the community after the process is finished.

This man is sizing the warp next to his home in Chirala, Andhra Pradesh. Together with his complete family he is in the warping and sizing business. after this process, the warp will be transported to one of the home weavers in the community after the process is finished.


It’s a make-believe world

Retail in India is once again a great example of the fact that India is a county of opposites and extremes. On one hand, people like to do their shopping at crowded markets, on the other hand, people just love going to the large shopping malls. How will this development proceed in the coming years?

Like all economy-related issues, the change from small to large-scale started when India got its free market economy in the 1990s. This was the point when high street and air-conditioned markets came up. This led to the large shopping malls, multiplexes and shopping centers of the present generation. This huge evolution is still going on, mall-designers are coming up with new ideas, new ways to entertain the people. Both for locals and for visitors from abroad, nothing seems to symbolize India’s transformation from a stagnant third-world country into an emerging economic super-power as much as its sparkling new malls.

American brand names like Levi’s and McDonald’s clutter the air-conditioned interiors, teenagers in low-cut jeans hang out in groups, cappuccino is sold at kiosks, and everyone appears to be having a great time. But there is one major problem; a lot of people come to look arounda and to enjoy the air-conditioned luxury, but not many spend money there.


The oversupply on malls leads to empty retail spaces and billboards without adds. For example, the city of Gurgaon, a satellite city of New Delhi, houses 40 shopping malls. Once you are inside, you forget about the city’s potholed roads, utterly rowdy traffic and in-your-face poverty; It’s a make-believe world.

Cities need to stop building new malls and develop the areas before further construction. Governments sell land because they get great prices for it, but maybe they have to invest in the infrastructure first. Think of Gurgaon, the city with stunning malls but no basic utilities – from drinking water, to sewage or garbage disposal, public transport or even sidewalks. Because the electricity supply is unreliable in Gurgaon, malls will have to run their own diesel-powered generators, which will cause significant pollution. And because the water supply is also shaky, many of the malls will have to dig wells and suck up groundwater, thus lowering the water table in the region.

These economical and environmental concerns are key reasons to proceed with caution before building more malls. In the worst-case scenario, haunted buildings might arise if nothing changes.

Frits Kranenborg

Work in progress

Diwali

Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights, is an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, occurring between mid-October and mid-November. For Hindus, Diwali is the most important festival of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes.

The name Diwali is itself a contraction of the word Deepavali, which translates into row of lamps. The festival involves the lighting of small clay lamps with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, most people wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.

In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC. In Sikhism, it commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amristar after freeing 52 Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by defeating Emperor Jahangir; the people lit candles and diyas to celebrate his return. This is the reason Sikhs also refer to Diwali as Bandi Chhorh Divas, “the day of release of detainees”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diwali

 

Last Friday, the 5th of November, was the start of Diwali and already weeks before it started you could feel the tension hanging in the air. Diwali is, next to Holi, one of the biggest festivals in India and for us most comparable with a mix between Christmas and New Years Eve, something to look forward to! Every day these past week we witnessed more and more lights coloring the streets in Delhi, even ‘our’ East Patel Nagar was beginning to look like Disneyland or the Strip in Las Vegas, but in a religious way of course. Also most children are lighting firecrackers, which you can buy almost anywhere. You can image that for us it kind of feels like the end of December, except for the bad weather.

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend-trip to Agra

Sunday the 24th of Octobre we went to Agra, which is in the south-eastern direction from Delhi. We stayed in Agra for 2 days to visit one of the most popular sightseeing’s among tourists; the Taj Mahal and the Red fort of Agra. Even though we are no tourists anymore (yes, India starts to feel like home), we felt the urgent need to see those famous monuments  in real life.

Sunday night was a short one, because we had to catch our train to Agra at 06:30 am. We went by subway to the train station and by the time we arrived there, we found out that the departure time of our train suddenly had proponed to  06:10 am. We didn’t have time to recover from the shock because we had to run very fast to the right platform in order to catch our train. Unfortunately, the train station of Delhi is really crowded and it became a big challenge to reach the platform in time. As soon as we got there we thought we were lost, because the train started to move slowly and nothing seemed to be able to stop him. But luckily, we realized that this is India and that you can always make use of ‘jugaad’* when you’re in trouble. Most trains here don’t have closed doors which means that you can just jump in, even though the train is moving already. So that’s what we did. It was kind of exciting to see if everyone was capable of jumping that far, but in the end everyone turned out to be fine.

Finally in the train, we realized that we were in the wrong one. Our train was not proponed, we just took one train earlier. This train also went to Agra and we were happy to hear that we could stay on board. Three hours later we finally arrived in Agra, ready for the real adventure to start …

We found a hotel for a reasonable price and decided to all do a powernap. In the afternoon we went to the Red Fort of Agra. This was originally a brick fort, it was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD. 

 

It was only during the reign of Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan, that the fort took on its current state. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble, often inlaid with gold or semi-precious gems. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort in order to make his own. At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in the Muasamman Buri, a tower with a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal.

The fort was the site of a battle during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company’s rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.

 

The Red fort has a beautiful garden where we enjoyed the rest of our day. The next day we went to the Taj Mahal. We wanted to see it by sunrise, so that’s why we woke up very early again in order to reach the Taj Mahal around 06:00 am.

The Taj Mahal ‘’crown of buildings’’ is one of the most recognizable structures in the word. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She died in 1631 during the birth of their fourteenth child. He promised his wife to build a building such as beautiful as she was.

It is widely considered as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and stands as a symbol of eternal love. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.

The Taj Mahal was extremely beautiful and the sunrise supported this feeling. After visiting the Taj Mahal, we had some time off to discover the rest of Agra, but besides the Taj Mahal and the Red fort, there’s not much to do. Agra is really touristic and crowded, but it was definitely worth the visit.

The train to Delhi would leave at 08:30 pm and that’s when we left Agra, back to Delhi again.

*Jugaad = a creative (illegal) solution when things are not working out the way they’re planned.

India Fashion Week

A few weeks ago we visited Hauz Khaz Village, an old village overlooking a lake in the heart of Delhi. Over there we entered a store called The Grey Garden and met one of the two designers from the brand 11.11 by CellDSGN. After a conversation about their store and concept and our mission in Delhi, we were asked to visit their show on India Fashion Week.

 

Saturday the 23 of October was the beginning of a five day during Fashion event situated in a hall at Pragati Maiden in New Delhi. There were showrooms on the ground floor from different designers all placed in boxes next to each other. The main show area was on the first floor and that is where we visited our first fashion show for spring-summer 2011 in India.

 

 

11.11 by CellDSGN with their collection ‘out of mind’.

The garments reveal a vigorous attention of detail. Layer up on layer of fine cotton, floaty cotton silks and embroidered nets. It is less traditional and more conceptual but the roots of India are still there. Striking was the soft runway made of blanket and the white flat shoes the models were wearing.

 

  

Rahul Mishra

Rahul is well known for integrating the rich heritage of Indian crafts in combination with global fashion. Chanderi, a hand-woven textile from Madhya Pradesh was integrated in the first part of the collection. In the second part Rahul made use of bandhani, which contents tye-dye from Gujrat.

 

 

 

JJ Valaya

Fabrics such as viols, georgettes, jacquards and silks in a carried palate, form the canvas for the intriguing collection of traditional evening ready-to-wear. Noticeable was that in most of the shows the models were wearing flat shoes. For some of the dresses in JJ Valaya’s show heels where necessary, but for the rest of the outfits they walked on sandals, where they not seem to care for height differences.

At the end of the evening we noticed that they use the same models in every show. They are not even looking for models who will fit the collection. We suppose that all models are booked by the fashion council by which designers have no choice to arrange models themselves. Maybe something to improve for the future.

Dastkar: Nature Bazaar

Dastkar: Nature bazaar

Last Friday we visited the Nature Bazaar, an outdoor fair here in Delhi, where a large variety of ethically made fabrics, garments and handicrafts from regions all over India are displayed and sold. The main reason we went there was to source fabrics for the garments we are going to design, but there were so many stalls with wonderful products that we also did some souvenir shopping.

We knew that Malkha, the NGO whose fabrics we are going to use in our designs and which we visited during our stay in Hyderabad, would be present at the Bazaar so of course we paid their stall a visit.

As you hopefully have read in our previous blog posts, the Malkha fabric is a beautifully handmade organic cotton, but because we need more variety in fabrics, we looked around for other organic and natural dyed fabrics, like silk or a thinner kind of cotton.  Unfortunately we did not find the fabrics we were looking for, so our search continues!



The first Month: Food

Today it is exactly 30 days ago we arrived in Delhi, India. That is why I would like to share some experiences of everyday life in Delhi.

The food

Since food is everyone’s first need, it seems logical to start with some thoughts and experiences concerning our eating habits.

Most of you probably already know we are staying in a guesthouse, this is where we have our breakfast. The menu provides us the choice between toast with eggs (an omelette, fried or boiled eggs) and two cheese-and-tomato sandwiches. Well, you can’t really call it cheese, but you get used to it and I am actually kind of starting to like it… We also get tea and coffee.

So breakfast is simple, easy and fine. Lunch on the other hand, is a bit more complex.

We mostly went to Coffee Day or another coffee place where I ordered a cappuccino and a Chicken Keema Kulcha, which is a mix between a sandwich and a pie with chicken and peas inside. This costs around 120rps, or 2 euro’s, in total, which for India is quite expensive.

Since yesterday however, we ‘found’ some bakeries nearby which give us a lot more to choose from for a lot less money. Today I had my lunch here and paid 80rps for two sandwiches and a cup of coffee. That’s more like it. And yes, because a lot of people here see us as walking wallets and we can’t cook our own diner, we are becoming cheap-asses.

This leaves us with diner. There are a couple of restaurants within walking distance of the guesthouse, Red Wok, Yo! China, an Indian restaurant which’s name I can’t remember and in case of emergency: Domino’s.

Because Yo! China gave some of us stomach issues and the air-conditioning makes you feel like stepping into Antarctica, I think all of us agree on the fact that Red Wok by far has the best food and service. We pay around 180rps a person here and I always feel stuffed when we are done, so that is quite a nice deal.

Of course we don’t eat in a restaurant every night, there are also some options for streetfood.

I especially like a place just around the corner where you can have a plate with two big fried potatoes, chickpeas and onion. Tonight I actually ate here for the third time this week and for the three meals I paid a total of 1,30euro’s.

Another option for streetfood is a place where you can get two fried vegetable rolls for 30rps, but every time we get our food there the owner of the shop seems a bit too happy… 

Mitch Martens

Slow/Tempo

After just a view weeks in New Delhi I want to share some small things about speed with you.

It’s quite a contradiction; on one hand, things do happen here, on the other hand, nothing seems to happen. On the roads and even in the alleys between all the houses in Old Delhi, men are pushing their motors and cars to the limit. Both in speeds as in the volume of the horn they mounted on their vehicle. He, who has the hardest horn and the fastest speed is going first and the people behind you, in front of you and next to you better watch out where you go.

Again, on the other hand, things are going really slow here. Not that a lot Indian people care about that. Things just happen, or not, there is always a reason so why worry? For example; the preparation for the Commonwealth Games. Like you may all know, the lead-up towards this event has ensured more problems then anyone expected before.

When we arrived in Delhi four weeks ago, there were only view weeks to pass before the event took place. Everywhere. And then I really mean everywhere; people were working. Some of them were fixing the streets, others tried to fix various metro stations before time. At this time, this region was more in the news because of the Commonwealth Games then it was about the big floods in Pakistan. It was the topic of the day and most of the Indian people I spoke to were ashamed for all the things that were happening. Rather.. not happening.

But, by all means, everything turns out right. After a bridge that collapsed, terrorist threads and tons of special military forces the city is having their games right now. Until now, things are going pretty well, although stadiums are empty and the real toppers are not participating the games. With only two days to go, the prime minister, Mr. Singh must squeeze his hands tight.  

The residents of New Delhi can keep there hands relaxed for a couple of days until the city comes alive, next Monday. Because of the games, all government-controlled institutions (and I can assure you, the government controls a lot over here) closed their doors for two weeks. So I’m going to enjoy the peace for a couple of days, Monday I will squeeze my hands tight again.

Frits Kranenborg


Today we went to Sunder Nagar to see the organisation SEWA, Self Employed Women’s Association. SEWA is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers. 

On the picture: a woman is working at home on a embroidery.

Today we went to Sunder Nagar to see the organisation SEWA, Self Employed Women’s Association. SEWA is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers.

On the picture: a woman is working at home on a embroidery.

Ikat Saris

On our excursion to the cotton fields near Hyderabad we visited a family that weaves traditional Indian Saris. Their work controls the rhythm and way of life. All activities from working, eating, living and sleeping takes place in the same room. Everyone including mother, father, son and family relatives were working together to create high valuable garments.

They dye the weft yarn in different colours before weaving, as you can see in the picture below.

By weaving the yarns into a plain weave the design will appear. This method of weaving is called Ikat. It is one of the oldest forms of textile decoration, but is less and less produced because of high time and work effort.

I was fascinated by the way this family holds on to old traditions and produced such wonderful garments. 

Elisabeth Kühn

Malkha - the freedom fabric

During our stay in Hyderabad we went to Andhra Pradesh to visit a NGO called Malkha. Malkha is a pure cotton cloth made directly from raw cotton in villages, nearby the cotton fields. The purpose of the NGO is to make the entire cotton textile chain village based with the least harm to the environment, stimulating the self-sufficiency of the village at the same time. The process of making Malkha is done in such a way that both farmers and weavers can benefit from each other and where spinning can become a rural occupation. The purpose of our visit there was to have a close look at this fabric to find out whether we can use it for our collection of Banana Republic.

The cotton industry in India does exist for more than 5000 years. Malkha is seen as the modern vision of making khadi cloth. The concept of this khadi was developed by Mahatma Gandhi. It was a symbol for political agendas during the fight for independence in India against the British rule. It was meant to provide employment to the unemployed rural population of India at that time. Even the Indian flag was made of the khadi material. That’s why it is also called ‘the freedom fabric’.

Most of the spinning nowadays is done by small holders and farmers, but unfortunately they have to face many difficulties. First of all farmers and weavers have no direct links with each other and farmers today therefore think that they are forced to grow the kind of cotton that modern machinery needs: with longer and stronger staple to withstand the high-speed processing. This cotton is called BT-cotton and is genetically manipulated. The costs of seeds and chemicals are high and the farmer takes all the risk if the crop fails.

Thirteen percent of the total textile export of the country comes from handlooms and most of it is cotton. The big advantage of the handlooms is that they all present a particular kind of weave, depending on the region. This will ensure a huge diversity and disappears when handlooms everywhere have to use the same mill-spun yarn.

Besides that, the regular cotton processing technology uses steam and high pressure to press all cotton in high-density bales. This bailing process costs lots of energy, destroys the natural fiber and has a huge impact on the valuable qualities of cotton, such as absorbency, durability, softness and elasticity.

Malkha avoids the bailing process and preserves therefore the high level of quality. The organization supports the traditional Indian principles of making cloths and the self-sufficiency of the villages by providing the inhabitants with education and knowledge. They guarantee fair working conditions and ensure a steady future at the same time. Malkha fabric is available in unbleached plain as well as a variety of natural colors and prints.

Source: www.malkha.in
Blog: malkhaindia.blogspot.com

Jharcraft silk production

Since we have not only used the Malkha cotton for our collection, but also the organic silk from Jharcraft, it was important for our concept to know a little more about the story behind this fabric. Therefore I recently went for a weekend to Ranchi, the capitol of the Jharkhand state, to do some research and shoot some photo’s for our project.

I was most impressed by the small village of Sithio, where men and women work on processing the silk yarns into fabric. Also many girl were eductated there on various types of handicrafts.

Developments in the Indian textile & apparel industry


The question if India will become the world’s economist superpower is a very beloved one. Some economists predict that India’s growth will outpace China by 2014 and others claim that it could even upstage the U.S. by the year 2025. 
 

Whenever this is going to happen or not, fact is that the Indian economy is booming. The textile and apparel exports grew with a percentage of 22.5 year-on-year in August 2010, while imports over the same period grew by 32.2 percent.

 These are amazing figures, especially when you have a look at the relative short timeline in which this has all been accomplished. As a result, the question amongst us rises ifthe country is able to deal with such a growth and moreover, how the country is able to deal with it. To answer this question, it is necessary to take a closer look at the characteristics of the Indian clothing industry and see what their current strategy is.

In the past, India has been facing many issues and problems in the textile and apparel sector, such as obsolescence, working conditions, restrictive government regulations and a severe lack of modernization.

Nowadays this is changing and the main advantages of the industry are the strong production of raw materials, skilled manpower, a young and growing workforce and low wage costs. But this last advantage has been threatened by the competition of even lower cost countries, such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia. In order to withstand this growing competition and to distinguish itself from other players in the market, India is busy adopting another, new strategy.

 Therefore the main challenge for the textile sector at the moment is to invest in innovation and modernization rather than further growth. The Indian government is keenly aware of this phenomenon and invests lots of money in the textile industry in order to keep the business up-to-date, as well as in the area of technology as this of design. The 2007’s National Design Policy has set up a plan to reach a 1,000% growth in design-related export products over the coming eight years.

 As a consequence, the ability to understand consumers and adapt to fashion trends is becoming more and more important for India and this will possibly become the unique selling point of the country in the future, setting the Indian textile and apparel industry apart from cheaper manufacturing countries.

 Nevertheless, many steps need to be taken in order to reach that point, implementing such a new strategy is a big challenge. Does the Indian textile industry have the capacity and the ability to set its focus on design and innovation? A complicated issue and obviously the opinions about this subject are diverse.

Over the last few weeks, we have visited a variety of textile manufacturers in Gurgaon, a place near Delhi where many factories and headquarters are based. There we have indeed noticed the fact that most of these companies are trying to become more and more design-focused. The greater part of the visited factories has for example a design team in-house.

 


The design team develops a broad range of styles, based on findings abroad (mostly Europe and the U.S.), fashion magazines and various fashion blogs. They try to imagine and understand the western taste of design and implement this within their designs in order to propose and sell these to their customers. We have been told that many big American and European brands incorporate their manufacturers’ designs into their own collection or either chooses to pick a few elements and mix these within their own designs.

From my experience so far,  I can definitely say that I feel the attempt of the Indian apparel and textile industry in becoming more innovative and design focused. As one of the manufacturers told us, “We make sure that we understand our western customers. We know what they want and our task is simply to prepare for that.”

Nevertheless it is hard to make a judgement about the kind of level on which they cooperate and whether they are able to fully understand the western taste and notion of design. And even more interesting, how this development will continue in the next coming years. Therefore time is probably the only one who will be able to tell us.

Lonneke Schaap. 

Sources used:
www.mudpie.com
www.indiaabroad.com

A conversation with Tjaco Walvis

 

A few weeks ago Frits and I got in contact with Tjaco Walvis. Tjaco wrote the book ‘Branding with Brains’, which is about marketing, consumer behaviour and its relation to neuroscience.

We thought, since he is Dutch, working in marketing and recently moved to Delhi for this, a conversation with him would be a good start for our research on Indian consumer behaviour for the DutchDFA.

He was kind enough to welcome us at his office in Gurgaon, just outside of Delhi. Our conversation was mainly about cultural differences and the fact that for doing objective research, we should try not to compare a foreign culture, with our own. Values differ from one culture to another and there is not just one truth.

He made us realize even more that we shouldn’t judge, but observe, which is difficult, but necessary.

After our conversation he gave us both a copy of his recently published and highly interesting book: ‘Branding with Brains’.

 

Mitch Martens

 

 

This man is sizing the warp next to his home in Chirala, Andhra Pradesh. Together with his complete family he is in the warping and sizing business. after this process, the warp will be transported to one of the home weavers in the community after the process is finished.

This man is sizing the warp next to his home in Chirala, Andhra Pradesh. Together with his complete family he is in the warping and sizing business. after this process, the warp will be transported to one of the home weavers in the community after the process is finished.


It’s a make-believe world

Retail in India is once again a great example of the fact that India is a county of opposites and extremes. On one hand, people like to do their shopping at crowded markets, on the other hand, people just love going to the large shopping malls. How will this development proceed in the coming years?

Like all economy-related issues, the change from small to large-scale started when India got its free market economy in the 1990s. This was the point when high street and air-conditioned markets came up. This led to the large shopping malls, multiplexes and shopping centers of the present generation. This huge evolution is still going on, mall-designers are coming up with new ideas, new ways to entertain the people. Both for locals and for visitors from abroad, nothing seems to symbolize India’s transformation from a stagnant third-world country into an emerging economic super-power as much as its sparkling new malls.

American brand names like Levi’s and McDonald’s clutter the air-conditioned interiors, teenagers in low-cut jeans hang out in groups, cappuccino is sold at kiosks, and everyone appears to be having a great time. But there is one major problem; a lot of people come to look arounda and to enjoy the air-conditioned luxury, but not many spend money there.


The oversupply on malls leads to empty retail spaces and billboards without adds. For example, the city of Gurgaon, a satellite city of New Delhi, houses 40 shopping malls. Once you are inside, you forget about the city’s potholed roads, utterly rowdy traffic and in-your-face poverty; It’s a make-believe world.

Cities need to stop building new malls and develop the areas before further construction. Governments sell land because they get great prices for it, but maybe they have to invest in the infrastructure first. Think of Gurgaon, the city with stunning malls but no basic utilities – from drinking water, to sewage or garbage disposal, public transport or even sidewalks. Because the electricity supply is unreliable in Gurgaon, malls will have to run their own diesel-powered generators, which will cause significant pollution. And because the water supply is also shaky, many of the malls will have to dig wells and suck up groundwater, thus lowering the water table in the region.

These economical and environmental concerns are key reasons to proceed with caution before building more malls. In the worst-case scenario, haunted buildings might arise if nothing changes.

Frits Kranenborg

Work in progress

Diwali

Diwali, popularly known as the festival of lights, is an important five-day festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, occurring between mid-October and mid-November. For Hindus, Diwali is the most important festival of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes.

The name Diwali is itself a contraction of the word Deepavali, which translates into row of lamps. The festival involves the lighting of small clay lamps with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, most people wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama along with Sita and Lakshman from his fourteen-year-long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas (oil lamps) and burst crackers.

In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BC. In Sikhism, it commemorates the return of Guru Har Gobind Ji to Amristar after freeing 52 Hindu kings imprisoned in Fort Gwalior by defeating Emperor Jahangir; the people lit candles and diyas to celebrate his return. This is the reason Sikhs also refer to Diwali as Bandi Chhorh Divas, “the day of release of detainees”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diwali

 

Last Friday, the 5th of November, was the start of Diwali and already weeks before it started you could feel the tension hanging in the air. Diwali is, next to Holi, one of the biggest festivals in India and for us most comparable with a mix between Christmas and New Years Eve, something to look forward to! Every day these past week we witnessed more and more lights coloring the streets in Delhi, even ‘our’ East Patel Nagar was beginning to look like Disneyland or the Strip in Las Vegas, but in a religious way of course. Also most children are lighting firecrackers, which you can buy almost anywhere. You can image that for us it kind of feels like the end of December, except for the bad weather.

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend-trip to Agra

Sunday the 24th of Octobre we went to Agra, which is in the south-eastern direction from Delhi. We stayed in Agra for 2 days to visit one of the most popular sightseeing’s among tourists; the Taj Mahal and the Red fort of Agra. Even though we are no tourists anymore (yes, India starts to feel like home), we felt the urgent need to see those famous monuments  in real life.

Sunday night was a short one, because we had to catch our train to Agra at 06:30 am. We went by subway to the train station and by the time we arrived there, we found out that the departure time of our train suddenly had proponed to  06:10 am. We didn’t have time to recover from the shock because we had to run very fast to the right platform in order to catch our train. Unfortunately, the train station of Delhi is really crowded and it became a big challenge to reach the platform in time. As soon as we got there we thought we were lost, because the train started to move slowly and nothing seemed to be able to stop him. But luckily, we realized that this is India and that you can always make use of ‘jugaad’* when you’re in trouble. Most trains here don’t have closed doors which means that you can just jump in, even though the train is moving already. So that’s what we did. It was kind of exciting to see if everyone was capable of jumping that far, but in the end everyone turned out to be fine.

Finally in the train, we realized that we were in the wrong one. Our train was not proponed, we just took one train earlier. This train also went to Agra and we were happy to hear that we could stay on board. Three hours later we finally arrived in Agra, ready for the real adventure to start …

We found a hotel for a reasonable price and decided to all do a powernap. In the afternoon we went to the Red Fort of Agra. This was originally a brick fort, it was mentioned for the first time in 1080 AD. 

 

It was only during the reign of Akbar’s grandson, Shah Jahan, that the fort took on its current state. Unlike his grandfather, Shah Jahan tended to have buildings made from white marble, often inlaid with gold or semi-precious gems. He destroyed some of the earlier buildings inside the fort in order to make his own. At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son, Aurangzeb, in the fort. It is rumored that Shah Jahan died in the Muasamman Buri, a tower with a marble balcony with a view of the Taj Mahal.

The fort was the site of a battle during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which caused the end of the British East India Company’s rule in India, and led to a century of direct rule of India by Britain.

 

The Red fort has a beautiful garden where we enjoyed the rest of our day. The next day we went to the Taj Mahal. We wanted to see it by sunrise, so that’s why we woke up very early again in order to reach the Taj Mahal around 06:00 am.

The Taj Mahal ‘’crown of buildings’’ is one of the most recognizable structures in the word. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. She died in 1631 during the birth of their fourteenth child. He promised his wife to build a building such as beautiful as she was.

It is widely considered as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and stands as a symbol of eternal love. The construction began around 1632 and was completed around 1653, employing thousands of artisans and craftsmen.

The Taj Mahal was extremely beautiful and the sunrise supported this feeling. After visiting the Taj Mahal, we had some time off to discover the rest of Agra, but besides the Taj Mahal and the Red fort, there’s not much to do. Agra is really touristic and crowded, but it was definitely worth the visit.

The train to Delhi would leave at 08:30 pm and that’s when we left Agra, back to Delhi again.

*Jugaad = a creative (illegal) solution when things are not working out the way they’re planned.

India Fashion Week

A few weeks ago we visited Hauz Khaz Village, an old village overlooking a lake in the heart of Delhi. Over there we entered a store called The Grey Garden and met one of the two designers from the brand 11.11 by CellDSGN. After a conversation about their store and concept and our mission in Delhi, we were asked to visit their show on India Fashion Week.

 

Saturday the 23 of October was the beginning of a five day during Fashion event situated in a hall at Pragati Maiden in New Delhi. There were showrooms on the ground floor from different designers all placed in boxes next to each other. The main show area was on the first floor and that is where we visited our first fashion show for spring-summer 2011 in India.

 

 

11.11 by CellDSGN with their collection ‘out of mind’.

The garments reveal a vigorous attention of detail. Layer up on layer of fine cotton, floaty cotton silks and embroidered nets. It is less traditional and more conceptual but the roots of India are still there. Striking was the soft runway made of blanket and the white flat shoes the models were wearing.

 

  

Rahul Mishra

Rahul is well known for integrating the rich heritage of Indian crafts in combination with global fashion. Chanderi, a hand-woven textile from Madhya Pradesh was integrated in the first part of the collection. In the second part Rahul made use of bandhani, which contents tye-dye from Gujrat.

 

 

 

JJ Valaya

Fabrics such as viols, georgettes, jacquards and silks in a carried palate, form the canvas for the intriguing collection of traditional evening ready-to-wear. Noticeable was that in most of the shows the models were wearing flat shoes. For some of the dresses in JJ Valaya’s show heels where necessary, but for the rest of the outfits they walked on sandals, where they not seem to care for height differences.

At the end of the evening we noticed that they use the same models in every show. They are not even looking for models who will fit the collection. We suppose that all models are booked by the fashion council by which designers have no choice to arrange models themselves. Maybe something to improve for the future.

Dastkar: Nature Bazaar

Dastkar: Nature bazaar

Last Friday we visited the Nature Bazaar, an outdoor fair here in Delhi, where a large variety of ethically made fabrics, garments and handicrafts from regions all over India are displayed and sold. The main reason we went there was to source fabrics for the garments we are going to design, but there were so many stalls with wonderful products that we also did some souvenir shopping.

We knew that Malkha, the NGO whose fabrics we are going to use in our designs and which we visited during our stay in Hyderabad, would be present at the Bazaar so of course we paid their stall a visit.

As you hopefully have read in our previous blog posts, the Malkha fabric is a beautifully handmade organic cotton, but because we need more variety in fabrics, we looked around for other organic and natural dyed fabrics, like silk or a thinner kind of cotton.  Unfortunately we did not find the fabrics we were looking for, so our search continues!



The first Month: Food

Today it is exactly 30 days ago we arrived in Delhi, India. That is why I would like to share some experiences of everyday life in Delhi.

The food

Since food is everyone’s first need, it seems logical to start with some thoughts and experiences concerning our eating habits.

Most of you probably already know we are staying in a guesthouse, this is where we have our breakfast. The menu provides us the choice between toast with eggs (an omelette, fried or boiled eggs) and two cheese-and-tomato sandwiches. Well, you can’t really call it cheese, but you get used to it and I am actually kind of starting to like it… We also get tea and coffee.

So breakfast is simple, easy and fine. Lunch on the other hand, is a bit more complex.

We mostly went to Coffee Day or another coffee place where I ordered a cappuccino and a Chicken Keema Kulcha, which is a mix between a sandwich and a pie with chicken and peas inside. This costs around 120rps, or 2 euro’s, in total, which for India is quite expensive.

Since yesterday however, we ‘found’ some bakeries nearby which give us a lot more to choose from for a lot less money. Today I had my lunch here and paid 80rps for two sandwiches and a cup of coffee. That’s more like it. And yes, because a lot of people here see us as walking wallets and we can’t cook our own diner, we are becoming cheap-asses.

This leaves us with diner. There are a couple of restaurants within walking distance of the guesthouse, Red Wok, Yo! China, an Indian restaurant which’s name I can’t remember and in case of emergency: Domino’s.

Because Yo! China gave some of us stomach issues and the air-conditioning makes you feel like stepping into Antarctica, I think all of us agree on the fact that Red Wok by far has the best food and service. We pay around 180rps a person here and I always feel stuffed when we are done, so that is quite a nice deal.

Of course we don’t eat in a restaurant every night, there are also some options for streetfood.

I especially like a place just around the corner where you can have a plate with two big fried potatoes, chickpeas and onion. Tonight I actually ate here for the third time this week and for the three meals I paid a total of 1,30euro’s.

Another option for streetfood is a place where you can get two fried vegetable rolls for 30rps, but every time we get our food there the owner of the shop seems a bit too happy… 

Mitch Martens

Slow/Tempo

After just a view weeks in New Delhi I want to share some small things about speed with you.

It’s quite a contradiction; on one hand, things do happen here, on the other hand, nothing seems to happen. On the roads and even in the alleys between all the houses in Old Delhi, men are pushing their motors and cars to the limit. Both in speeds as in the volume of the horn they mounted on their vehicle. He, who has the hardest horn and the fastest speed is going first and the people behind you, in front of you and next to you better watch out where you go.

Again, on the other hand, things are going really slow here. Not that a lot Indian people care about that. Things just happen, or not, there is always a reason so why worry? For example; the preparation for the Commonwealth Games. Like you may all know, the lead-up towards this event has ensured more problems then anyone expected before.

When we arrived in Delhi four weeks ago, there were only view weeks to pass before the event took place. Everywhere. And then I really mean everywhere; people were working. Some of them were fixing the streets, others tried to fix various metro stations before time. At this time, this region was more in the news because of the Commonwealth Games then it was about the big floods in Pakistan. It was the topic of the day and most of the Indian people I spoke to were ashamed for all the things that were happening. Rather.. not happening.

But, by all means, everything turns out right. After a bridge that collapsed, terrorist threads and tons of special military forces the city is having their games right now. Until now, things are going pretty well, although stadiums are empty and the real toppers are not participating the games. With only two days to go, the prime minister, Mr. Singh must squeeze his hands tight.  

The residents of New Delhi can keep there hands relaxed for a couple of days until the city comes alive, next Monday. Because of the games, all government-controlled institutions (and I can assure you, the government controls a lot over here) closed their doors for two weeks. So I’m going to enjoy the peace for a couple of days, Monday I will squeeze my hands tight again.

Frits Kranenborg


Today we went to Sunder Nagar to see the organisation SEWA, Self Employed Women’s Association. SEWA is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers. 

On the picture: a woman is working at home on a embroidery.

Today we went to Sunder Nagar to see the organisation SEWA, Self Employed Women’s Association. SEWA is an organisation of poor, self-employed women workers.

On the picture: a woman is working at home on a embroidery.

Ikat Saris

On our excursion to the cotton fields near Hyderabad we visited a family that weaves traditional Indian Saris. Their work controls the rhythm and way of life. All activities from working, eating, living and sleeping takes place in the same room. Everyone including mother, father, son and family relatives were working together to create high valuable garments.

They dye the weft yarn in different colours before weaving, as you can see in the picture below.

By weaving the yarns into a plain weave the design will appear. This method of weaving is called Ikat. It is one of the oldest forms of textile decoration, but is less and less produced because of high time and work effort.

I was fascinated by the way this family holds on to old traditions and produced such wonderful garments. 

Elisabeth Kühn

Malkha - the freedom fabric

During our stay in Hyderabad we went to Andhra Pradesh to visit a NGO called Malkha. Malkha is a pure cotton cloth made directly from raw cotton in villages, nearby the cotton fields. The purpose of the NGO is to make the entire cotton textile chain village based with the least harm to the environment, stimulating the self-sufficiency of the village at the same time. The process of making Malkha is done in such a way that both farmers and weavers can benefit from each other and where spinning can become a rural occupation. The purpose of our visit there was to have a close look at this fabric to find out whether we can use it for our collection of Banana Republic.

The cotton industry in India does exist for more than 5000 years. Malkha is seen as the modern vision of making khadi cloth. The concept of this khadi was developed by Mahatma Gandhi. It was a symbol for political agendas during the fight for independence in India against the British rule. It was meant to provide employment to the unemployed rural population of India at that time. Even the Indian flag was made of the khadi material. That’s why it is also called ‘the freedom fabric’.

Most of the spinning nowadays is done by small holders and farmers, but unfortunately they have to face many difficulties. First of all farmers and weavers have no direct links with each other and farmers today therefore think that they are forced to grow the kind of cotton that modern machinery needs: with longer and stronger staple to withstand the high-speed processing. This cotton is called BT-cotton and is genetically manipulated. The costs of seeds and chemicals are high and the farmer takes all the risk if the crop fails.

Thirteen percent of the total textile export of the country comes from handlooms and most of it is cotton. The big advantage of the handlooms is that they all present a particular kind of weave, depending on the region. This will ensure a huge diversity and disappears when handlooms everywhere have to use the same mill-spun yarn.

Besides that, the regular cotton processing technology uses steam and high pressure to press all cotton in high-density bales. This bailing process costs lots of energy, destroys the natural fiber and has a huge impact on the valuable qualities of cotton, such as absorbency, durability, softness and elasticity.

Malkha avoids the bailing process and preserves therefore the high level of quality. The organization supports the traditional Indian principles of making cloths and the self-sufficiency of the villages by providing the inhabitants with education and knowledge. They guarantee fair working conditions and ensure a steady future at the same time. Malkha fabric is available in unbleached plain as well as a variety of natural colors and prints.

Source: www.malkha.in
Blog: malkhaindia.blogspot.com

Jharcraft silk production
Developments in the Indian textile & apparel industry
A conversation with Tjaco Walvis
It’s a make-believe world
Diwali
Weekend-trip to Agra
India Fashion Week
Dastkar: Nature Bazaar
The first Month: Food
Slow/Tempo
Ikat Saris
Malkha - the freedom fabric

About:

India has become a major player in the world of fashion and textiles over the last few years. The country is now the second largest cotton exporter of the world, after China. India is also known for its Crafts industry and is, besides that, a production country for many big fashion brands, for example Nike, GAP and H&M.

AMFI has several reasons for collaborating with India. First of all the school wants to bring its young fashion professionals in contact with the Indian way of working. This will help them in their future career to do business with and for India, either for an Indian or non-Indian fashion company.

Secondly, the fashion industry of India is for a big part based on tradition and heritage (especially the crafts industry). The Dutch students might bring this aspect back in the Dutch way of working, which can lead to innovation, inspiration and new ideas.

AMFI will research the role of tradition in India, what is the Indian perspective of the their own fashion industry? Is there a special need for them to work together with Dutch students and in which area?

The aim of AMFI is to establish a relevant, regular education program with the Pearl Academy (www.pearlacademy.com) and the Crafts industry for Dutch fashion students in India and the other way around. Important is that there will be an exchange of knowledge. Collaboration is a big advantage for Dutch students, but Indian students get the chance to learn from the Dutch students at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.

We as students are looking forward to this project. Besides all reasons mentioned above, the project also contributes to our personal development.

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