The first signs of spring for me always include a hankering after yet another impossibly splendid Mongolian felt wool coat, and maybe a chikankari blouse or a khaadi waistcoat or two. But it’s not just the pretty things that make the Asia House Fair special, it’s its explicit focus on promoting ethical, ‘slow’ fashion and design. Also because it’s buzzing, and there’s food, and fusion chocolate.
The idea of slow fashion is a movement trying to bring about a shift from socially and environmentally unsustainable models of mass production and cheap clothes, to fashion that is centred around quality and not quantity. Most of the Fair’s exhibitors have an ethical focus. This means they source their items from local artisans across Asia (who often use traditional techniques), and emphasise being able to tell their customers where their items have come from, supporting local artisans and ensuring they get a fair wage, and reducing the environmental impact of their work.
Here’s the low down on who to watch out for at the Fair:
What a welcome resurgence Indian silver jewellery is having! Zevar will be exhibiting jhumkis, tribal necklaces, cuffs, as well as more modern earrings inlaid with semi-precious stones. The British Musuem’s Shop began retailing some of their lines last year, and they are presenting their new collection at the Fair.
Sanskara Designs have been promising their glass inlay tribal necklaces (pictured) for the Fair, which alone are well worth a visit for!
Still Ethical – they of the devastatingly handsome wool jackets from the Himalayas, and chikankari blouses from Lucknow, and my eternal favourite of Fair fixtures. Still Ethical work with artisans in India and Nepal to make one-off pieces from handwoven, naturally dyed fabrics using traditional techniques. Prices are high but then so is the desirability value and the ethical quotient.
Don’t miss S9 Muses who stock some of the most exciting Indian designers, including our favourites Ka-Sha, Debashri Samanta and Ilk. Expect a modern, unconventional take on Indian design, as well as natural and handwoven, ethically sourced fabrics, and some beautiful semi-precious jewellery.
The Far East Studio are presenting difficult to find handwoven and handcrafted jamdani, ikat and kantha textiles and embroideries from India.
This year, they’re joined by Abdul Rauf Khatri, a 6th generation artisan from Gujarat who has been doing ajrak printing for 22 years. Fresh from an exhibition at the Nehru Centre, he is presenting a beautiful collection of ajrak scarves (pictured). Ajrak is an ancient and complex hand block printing technique from the regions of Kutch, Rajasthan and Sindh which uses natural indigo and madder dyes made from plants and minerals.
For writing in style, Fair regulars Paper Haveli’s elegant and quirky hand printed notebooks, writing sets, and giftwrap feature contemporary takes on traditional Indian motifs, stories and myths. Everything is handmade by artisans in India.
An eye-grabbing treasure trove of hand embroidered scarves, purses, cushions and table runners by Etsy favourites Desi Karigars (pictured). Watch out for their stunning modern take on phulkari for stoles and table linen.
Zafran Couture (top photo) present pashmina shawls, blouses and jackets, all hand embroidered or crafted by artisans in Kashmir, some over a period of several months. Watch out for their long woollen waistcoats.
Kiran Sidiki makes cushions and jewellery featuring South Asian textiles and embroideries presented in a contemporary way. See her Ralli patchwork collection, and her coin and ceramic bead corded necklaces.
When: 16 – 19 March 2017 (Friday 11am – 7pm/ Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 11am – 4pm)
Where: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP
Tickets: FREE to enter
More info: Asia House
Posted on 17 March 2017
Photos courtesy of Asia House and the exhibitors