Between craftsmanship and fashion, discovering ancient techniques [Special Textiles 2019]Productive realities in balance between hand-made and industry, which re-interpret ancient techniques at the service of fashion
While the world of fashion textiles is looking for new technologies and sustainable solutions, several industrial micro-realities still rexist moving in a hybrid world where traditional craftsmanship and modern taste come together to create a new aesthetic.
In an age where large-scale reproduction and digital technology are now fundamental elements for approaching the market, an opposite trend is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, for some seasons now, there has been a return to “personalisation” and to the numerical growth of consumers in search of products that incorporate ancient manufacturing features. And some companies are characterised by a unique material approach to fabrics, capable of making them unique pieces.
Amaike Textile Industry
Amaike Group is a Japanese company, based in Ishikawa, which has been specialising in the production of polyester fabrics since 1956 and which, in 2006, presented a new textile type, called “Super Organza”. This precious material is considered one of the most transparent fabrics on the market and comes from the union between Japanese artisans and textile researchers. The secret of lightness is given by the company’s ability to weave a polyester yarn of only 7 denier with a thickness equal to one fifth of a human hair, producing a product with a weight of 10 grams/sqm.
Authentic Material, a project born in a small workshop based in Toulouse, France, reconditions inert materials giving them new life. The concept is inspired by the metallurgical technique of melting and reusing metals. This technique is applied to various natural elements such as wood, leather, shells and bovine horns. In an ancient interpretation of the concept of circular production, the French company produces reconditioned panels that find application in the field of jewellery, eyewear and accessories in general, such as buttons, clamps and buckles.
Since 1976 the Cemia-Rich laboratory has been interpreting the ancient Kyoto paper production techique by creating fabrics.
Through hand-loom weaving, it is possible to produce washi paper inserts alternating them with cotton threads.
This technique was discovered by browsing the archives of the Kyoto castle, where register and book covers were made with this system. The most important feature of the fabric is its resistance over time, a factor that makes it particularly suitable also for making shoes and leather goods. The compactness of the cotton yarn with paper stripes increases the performance in terms of abrasion and durability.
The Japanese company also creates this product with a verticalised process, from the paper to the dyeing and printing of fabrics, all through rigorously manual processes.
The Golden Silk farm was established in 2002 in the Siem Reap region, the cultural heart of Cambodia. For several centuries, in this area people have been preserving animal breeding and the production of “golden silk”, the Khmer silk, which has been used for generations to tailor clothes for the Angkor kings.
Today, the company has taken up this traditional technique and produces fabrics with different weaving techniques: from the traditional ikat to reserve designs or brocades intertwined with gold threads.
Moreover, the main characteristic of the company is the absolute verticalisation of the process: from breeding to spinning up to finishing. Everything is done in-house, creating not only a good environmental practice, avoiding the use of pesticides and chemical agents, but also playing an important social role in the community.
Atelier Marion Chopineau
A multidisciplinary research is the main feature of the Parisian atelier Marion Chopineau. The designer combines traditional techniques such as embroidery, macramé, weaving, plissé and dyeing, with modern techniques such as 3D modelling and laser cutting. These processes are often combined with techniques typical of other areas such as sculpture and mosaic. The atelier’s ability is to create unique products like silicone “jerseys” made for Maison Margiela with 3D printing. The designer’s eclecticism lies in using completely different materials, from textile fibres to fur, passing through unusual materials such as silicone and ceramic materials.
Cécile Feilchenfeldt created her own atelier in Paris after working for several years as a set and costume designer for important institutions such as the Comédie-Française in Paris and the Zurich Opera. Its main feature is to apply the traditional technique of flat knitting to contemporary yarns and unusual materials. Structures are modelled like sculptures through the use of metal wires, plastic inserts and self-deforming nylon yarns creating structures that seem to defy gravity.
Experimentation is the basis of the creativity of the designer who is able to generate “movement” and to make garments and accessories directly through knit weaving without the use of sewing machines. This technique has allowed Cécile to collaborate with different realities including Maison Schiaparelli.
Living Blue, a cooperative organisation born from the NGO Care, is a project that brings together an entire chain of artisans in Bangladesh dedicated to the cultivation of the “Indigofera Tinctoria”, a plant with which indigo pigment is produced. The organisation’s primary objective is to develop the socioeconomic conditions of the Rangpur region.
The peculiarity of the project is being able to combine reserve dyeing techniques through the Tie-Dye for fabrics or Shibori for yarns: these procedures allow to create patterns on some areas of the material through knots and ligatures.
Finally, embroidery, quilting and needle-punching processes that resume the region’s centuries-old traditions should also be underlined.