The creative process of Melissa de Valera has since the beginning of Takla Makan been that of a slow fashion project, even when the words didn't mean much to anyone. All the textiles used are natural fibres: silk, cotton (organic as much as possible), wool and linen. All the fabrics are sourced from ethical and responsible craftspeople and NGOs all over India, they contribute to financing different programs in women's empowerment, education, revival of traditional crafts. Melissa also uses upcycling and patchwork for her accessories.
Every creation takes its own time, the time for sustainable and ethical fashion, the time of well done craft work...
The "Kantha" scarves are a real symbol for the slow fashion project Takla Makan, and are like a signature since our begining. Each piece is totally unique, designed like an artistic landscape by Melissa with the left overs from the garment collection. Upcycling and patchwork combine here in a spirit of sustainable and ethical fashion, very different from the cheap kantha pieces that are available on the market and made by women working in terrible conditions.
Once the patchwork is composed, it is assembled with the stitching machine, then Melissa carefuly chooses the threads and the embroidery patterns that will make the colours of each scarf sing in a particular tone...The scarves are then sent to the NGO Katna’s Kantha in West Bengal, India, where they are entirely hand embroidered by the Women who are beneficiaries of the Street Survivors India program.
They are experts in the art of Kantha embroidery : it is a running stitch done by hand with a needle which gives the possibility to create geometric patterns. All of them have interesting names (bilai powti: cat's paw, panka: fan, laathi: stick, Maachi: flies, etc…) This artistic and gratifying craft allows the embroiderers to be financially autonomous while working from home, close to their kids and cattle, and at their own rythm.
The benefits from the NGO help finance a revolutionary school, in english medium, girls and boys together, and totally free for the children of the embroiderers.
It's a wonderful long term partnership and Takla Makan is very proud of it!