Woven Riches: From Hand to Heart
Woven Riches, founded by mother-daughter duo Reea and Namita, is a close-knit brand that it is totally committed to operating ethically, with integrity and transparency. From cushions to rugs, and throws to sleepwear, all of Woven Riches’ highly desirable products are handmade. They’re also ethically sourced, reflecting the founders’ passion and love for natural fabrics, vibrant and intricate patterns, thoughtful designs and traditional Indian production techniques.
Take the brand’s pyjama sets and robes for example. Drawing on their Indian roots and crafted from lightweight pure cotton, these are painstakingly handmade by Woven Riches’ small team of artisans in the Pink City of Jaipur, using the ancient art of block printing. In India, the labour-intensive technique of block printing holds a very special place, with the craft of dyeing and colouring a fabric using wooden blocks having been perfected over generations. Each block print is symbolic of India’s immense heritage and rich culture. The founders’ goal is to provide support to these undervalued Indian artisans and their families, and to prevent this beautiful and fascinating art form from dying out, whilst at the same time ‘bringing soul and stories’ to the brand’s textiles.
So, what makes block printing so unique? Crucially, it is always carried out by skilled artisans and not by machines so it’s a world away from mass production. From wood carving a teak block by hand, to transferring an impression onto the textile surface, it is the human hand that creates the tiny variations and imperfections that are so appealing and unique to this process – no two block printed products are identical. The blocks are then dipped in dye, natural where possible – achieving the correct colour requires great patience – and stamped by hand, individually across the fabric. Importantly, block printing is an eco-friendly and sustainable technique which lends itself well to both small bespoke and large-scale production. Woven Riches frequently re-uses the patterned blocks over different collections to avoid re-making them.
For its beautiful hand embroidered throws, Woven Riches works with a group of women who specialise in Kantha work. Kantha embroidery is an indigenous household craft that began as a means of recycling old or unused cloths and garments, in order to create items for household use, such as quilts and plate covers. It is considered a form of art, due to the uniqueness of individual creations, its ability to convey a story and its use as a form of personal and artistic expression. What sets this form of needlework embroidery apart from others is the wide use of the running stitch or kantha. It is one of the oldest and most popular forms of Indian embroidery, predominantly practised amongst rural women in the Indian states of West Bengal and Odisha (Orissa) with the techniques used passed down from mother to daughter. A renewed appreciation of this artisanal craft offers us a fresh perspective on our more modern approach to sustainability and upcycling. Each of Woven Riches throws take eight days to complete and once you have seen the immaculate stitch work you can well understand why.
Throughout its collections, Woven Riches celebrates the wonderful traditions and rich culture of India whilst cleverly reflecting contemporary western design. The brand’s support for its wonderfully skilled team of block printers and their families, and the groups of women specialising in Kantha embroidery has to be much admired. The result: a beautiful thoughtful range of products which clearly reflect the love with which they were made.