Today I went to visit Oitij-jo Collective’s first exhibition;
an exploration of Bangladeshi Nakshi stitching and Khadi material with
designer Rukia Ullah and the ethical and sustainable fashion designer
Shama Kun. Seeing Bengalis out here not just embracing our culture, but doing so through ethical and sustainable means is the BEST THING EVAR and is honestly so inspiring to someone who wishes to do the same (somehow).
Nakshi comes from the Bengali word “naksha”, which refers to
artistic patterns. The stitching was used traditionally to make
‘Kanthas’ or quilts by using old sarees and other materials. Rukia
explores the spirit of this very traditional process what now would be
called ‘recycling or upcycling’.
Rukia’s specialism is
print and pattern design along with fashion design – her explorations
through design now include understanding her cultural roots of
Bangladesh – her collections are thus inspired from Bangladesh and its
diverse heritage, and she aspires to engage further with this by drawing
her inspiration from Bengal’s rich cultural heritage. In this
collection she uses both recycled patterned fabric and Nakshi to
counteract stereotypes of Bangladesh with the beautiful aspects of the
land, in particular the beauty of Barsa, the rainy season.
Shama Kun explores the often neglected Khadi also known as
‘Khaddar’ which has a long history in Bangladesh dating back to 16th
Century. The material is mainly woven from cotton and blended with silk
or other materials by hand on the ‘Chakra’, and carries a message of
self-reliance and sustainability. Not to mention that it’s completely
A ‘people before profit’ label, Shama
Kun focuses on keeping indigenous Bangladeshi textile knowledge alive
while providing culturally inspired, cutting edge yet modern wear for
the modern woman. Shama Kun ethically produces all her range in rural
weaving belts and craft cluster of Bangladesh.
Thank you to Oitij-jo for such an inspiring exhibition. As a woman who is passionate about ethics and celebrating my grandparents’ culture, it is so beautiful to see the two entwined by two very talented women, especially seeing how women in Bangladesh have actually been recycling for TIME #ethicalgoals – looking forward to similar events!
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