Prints of India: Alanagh Clegg’s new slow-fashion collection

This limited edition collection chimes with Clegg’s ‘handmade and conscious’ ethos

The kimono. Photograph: Doreen Kilfeather

The kimono. Photograph: Doreen Kilfeather

 

A month spent in Gujarat in India during her fashion student years at NCAD had a profound effect on designer Alanagh Clegg. Watching the celebrated printers in Bhuj carrying on their age-old craft of block printing, one of the earliest and slowest methods of textile printing, “was one of the main inspirations for me and what I could use from what they do”, she says.

“For me there is such a strong place in my heart for what they do – it is like music watching them because of the rhythm of their work. These guys work for so many international brands and companies, and their fabrics have been displayed in the V&A, so their craftsmanship is recognised internationally. Dyes used are all natural from the area – rust for black, madder for red, indigo for blue.”

For five years in a row, Clegg revisited Bhuj, the last time in 2019 when she viewed a collection of archive prints made with blocks that were more than 100 years old. During lockdown she spoke to the block printer with whom she has worked in India and had visited many times, and she learned that he had been badly affected during the pandemic by cancelled orders and collapsed sales.

The lightweight cotton is perfect for warmer days. Photograph: Doreen Kilfeather
The lightweight cotton is perfect for warmer days. Photograph: Doreen Kilfeather
The kimona. Photograph: Doreen Kilfeather
The kimona. Photograph: Doreen Kilfeather

So Clegg bought his remaining prints and from them produced this collection of garments, making it a very special limited edition that chimes with her ethos of “inspired, handmade, quality and conscious”. (The blockmakers who live in the countryside have a lot of outdoor space, can socially distance in fresh air and have had no fatalities, unlike her garment makers in Ahmedabad city who are staying home hoping to stay safe.)

Her collection consists of a series of loungewear sets (drawstring trousers with a relaxed top) in hand-blocked antique prints coupled with a printed kimono.

One of the four handblocked prints in the new Four Threads collection.
One of the four handblocked prints in the new Four Threads collection.
Close-up of one of the four prints in the new Four Threads collection.
Close-up of one of the four prints in the new Four Threads collection.

“The lightweight cotton is perfect for warmer days and is a light and airy feel against the skin,” she says. Each print was created with four blocks of colour, and tones are muted because of the natural dyes. The kimono is a simplified version of the Japanese design made from four main pieces finished with French seams and a flat collar with two large pockets and a belt.

One of the four handblocked prints in the new Four Threads collection.
One of the four handblocked prints in the new Four Threads collection.
One of the four handblocked prints in the new Four Threads collection.
One of the four handblocked prints in the new Four Threads collection.

Prices start at €210 for the short kimono, €230 for the longer version, with sets €320. With leftover materials, she added four face masks at €20 each. Visit four-threads.com. Some items may also be in Havana when the store reopens.

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