| The Angrakha Top |
Here is the very first peak into TTL's transparent wardrobe bringing you the story behind the 'Angrakha Top' by designer Suparna Som who is based in Noida, India.
Having worn the top, I can say that comfort with a timeless elegant style is what I feel whilst wearing it.
Suparna Som intends to create handmade luxury inspiring human life towards simple living. The label speaks as a medium of communication between rural and urban cultures by intertwining basic silhouettes with unique manual expertise of textile making practices as found in traditional craft belts of West Bengal. Every ensemble created by them represents the expertise of the artisans, intending to keep the timeless art of handloom alive.
Suparna has written this beautiful story with intricate details on the key artisans and processes involved in designing, weaving and forming the timeless 'Angrakha Top'.
I love taking inspiration from the past because it always makes me nostalgic, which is a beautiful feeling. The Angrakha silhouette has its own stories. Angrakha (also known as 'jama') was a full sleeved garment worn by men and women with a crosswise side fastening above the waist to the right or left. When the mughals came to India, they came wearing central Asian attire, which was similar to 'jama', however it is also said that Rajputs took to wearing the jama before the advant of the Mughals in India.
For our Angrakha top, we used the traditional method of closure. It is tied using thin cord from left over fabric of the same fabric as used in the garment where the ends are finished making tiny cloth balls also known as Lattu (like a spinning top).
I wanted to make it in a traditional way, so we kept the fabric colour as a natural white (unbleached) and hence no chemicals are used in the process.
We have used two types of handwoven fabric in this top. One is a fine khadi cotton fabric which has a muted check texture which is developed twisting thick cotton yarns twice and then woven, and another one is a plain white handwoven fine cotton (also used here for lining the top).
Our Khadi and cotton yarns are patiently spun by Shanti Basak from West Bengal.
So we weave 5 meters of each fabric (which could be used to make two tops out of it) that includes 950gm of cotton and 180gm of khadi, and it takes 6 days to spin through a traditional wooden Charkha, within this duration they are simultaneously also involved in finishing up their daily house chores.
5 meters of fabric with simple texture or plain fabric takes around 2 to 3 days to weave. In this case, it would take around 4 to 6 days as there are two types of fabrics .
There is a thick cotton yarn available in the local West Bengal market known as Muslice cotton yarn, which is often used to create selvedge of the fabric. Muslice cotton yarns are twisted twice to achieve the thickness required to create the checks.
We do follow zero wastage although our production is very much limited at the moment, but we believe in making change with small things in our daily life. Our pattern master Ji has a working experience of past 25 years in the industry and hence very precisely traces each part of the pattern to ensure mininum wastage. We try to utilise the left over fabrics in some way or the other such as in detailing, or in a few styles covering up the buttons.
Our tailor master Ji is Javed Muhammad Ali.
We do not have our own studio yet, so our tailors usually work in their free time which is why we only make pieces on a make to order basis. So therefore it takes almost 3 days to stitch a top with this intricate detailing (considering 4 hours a day).
The top is lined using handwoven cotton fabric, however before attaching the lining, the seams are finished using french seam finishing technique where the raw edges are enclosed.
|Social & Environmental Impacts|
We also plan to work with genuine natural dyes with waste material for our next collection. I believe we are following each step very carefully while we produce anything. This top is unbleached, however when we use coloured fabrics, we make sure our yarns are dyed using Azo free technique which is 100 percent skin and environmental friendly method of dying the processed yarns before weaving as it doesn’t involve any chemical. It is a much more laborious technique as it involves various steps until the final point.
TTL Round Up
What we love about the Angrakha top is the layered silhouette and woven check detail on the flares waist down giving it that texture and feel. It is a breezy summer wear, cut to flatter the body, the perfect versatile top for the summer wardrobe, that can be worn either dressed down during the day teamed with ripped jeans or dressed up in the evening with off white denims and heels. A bonus is that it is also ideal for a holiday wardrobe as it can be styled over swim suits.