Hand Made Text

Hand Made

Alison Welsh
Manchester Metropolitan University

17 – 26 November 2014

Bunka Gakuen University, Tokyo presents Hand Made, an exhibition by British fashion designer and textile artist Alison Welsh, Head of the Department of Apparel and Associate Dean for Research at Manchester Metropolitan University. The exhibition showcases a series of unique, hand made womenswear garments that have been developed in conjunction with rural artisans in the Indian state of Gujarat, and the technical team of the Department of Apparel at Manchester Metropolitan University.

The collection highlights the previously overlooked design potential of Kala Cotton, an organic and indigenous species grown in Kachchh, in northern India. Unlike most Indian cottons grown today, which are genetically modified and often hybridized, Kala Cotton is genetically pure and extremely resilient. Welsh’s garments celebrate the virtues and natural softness of the material, fusing British and Indian heritage cutting techniques with a more minimal western fashion fit and sensibility. Her silhouettes are loose and flattering, making the most of the distinctive patterning of the woven cotton.

The innovative designs are inspired by traditional Indian detailing and pattern cutting methods, which Welsh has skilfully translated into contemporary womenswear. Welsh worked closely with Bhujodi master weaver Shamji Vishram Vankar, to develop a range of organically dyed fabric designs exclusively for the project. The garments exhibit traditional hand embroidery and embellishment, carried out by the women of the Rabari community in Bhujodi.

Hand Made has been realised in conjunction with Indian crafts support agency Khamir. Working with the organisation and local growers, weavers, tailors and embroiderers, Welsh has created beautiful garments from fabrics made of this exceptional variety of cotton. The project hopes to deliver positive social and economic impact to the rural artisans of Kachcch, through the creation of new and sustainable products, and the promotion of Kala Cotton to the international design community.