Traveling around India is like a rainbow rollercoaster: fushcia, lime, canary, sapphire… Colour shines out from every nook and cranny. This was pretty much the experience of our design trip to India. We began with a whistle stop tour of Nehru Palace, Delhi an Aladdin’s cave of fabrics in every colour, texture, weave and print. It’s the perfect treasure trove for Smock to hunt out its signature bright trimmings and suck up stores of colour inspiration. Most of these shops have modest ground floor showrooms, and then you go downstairs….to room, after room, after room of luscious fabrics where everything is possible!
Next up is an amazing meeting with some of the Indian charities we would like to support with our buy one give one campaign. When choosing a charity, we go out of our way to meet them in person, to know where the donated items are going, and who they will help. It’s perfect pause for thought on our rollercoaster ride, focussing our mind on the people we would like to help as we build our next collection.
Our final destination is the amazing family workshop where we proudly make our clothes. Lots of discussions, jokes, snacks and tea with Sonhil, Shanti and Master pattern cutter start proceedings and we agree which styles will be developed.
This is followed by an intensive couple of days working alongside pattern cutters, fabric cutters, embroiderers and finishers, tweaking threads, adjusting collars, perfecting waistbands, loosening cuffs, easing shoulders so together we get the samples just right.
It's never a smooth journey and it would be dull if it was, there are always unexpected problems but working together in person there’s nothing we can’t solve. It’s just one of the wonderful things about working with artisans in India: problems are never roadblocks, just the beginning of new conversations and solutions. The excitement and bustle in the workshop as together we bring the designs to life is my favourite part of the whole process. It’s a full team effort bringing together an incredible array of skills and knowledge to make something quite beautiful and unexpected.
There isn’t much sleep, there are a lot of snacks and plenty of laughter and passion. We hobble onto the plane, ready for bed, but with our hearts beating wildly at the thought of the suitcase of rainbows we’ve checked into the hold.