Dervish Coat - Electra
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Inspired by the whirling capes of dervishes, this bespoke coat makes a very stylish accessory. It features a patchwork of different silk and cotton fabrics in a shifting palette of blues, greys and blacks, punctuated by bright yellow accents. Both outer and inner sides are covered in rows of white Kantha hand embroidery. Cut generously, it has full-length dropped sleeves, a kimono collar and two large pockets that close with hand-beaten brass buttons on the front. It can be worn open or closed with a belt at the waist. Soft and enveloping, this piece is one of a kind.
/ Eco - The use of fabric remnants and hand made processes mean the production is eco-friendly. All materials are natural and thus bio-degradable.
/ Women empowerment - patchwork and embroidery is done exclusively by women from highly marginalised communities. This work, which is regular, fairly paid and dignified, provides their only source of income.
/ Ethical - This garment is stitched in a Delhi workshop where workers receive well-above the minimum wage and enjoy flexible, safe and comfortable working conditions.
Outer: Mix of cotton, linen and silk · Lining: Cotton.
Gentle hand wash in cold water. Do not soak. Drip dry in shade.
One size: Height is 110 cm, sleeve measures 60 cm from the shoulder and the width at the waist is 80 cm. Please note: these measurements differ slightly between pieces.
Handmade in India
I was greatly touched by the resilience of people living in the most desperate of circumstances and struck by the tremendous inequality I saw around me. I wanted to contribute in some way to addressing this inequality, and this was the seed for House of Wandering Silk.READ THE STORY
We asked Katherine about her journey and her vision, how she so successfully married two passions to create a fashion brand both beautiful and socially aware.
Your story is so inspiring - could you give us a brief narrative of your inspiration in founding HOWS?
In addition to wanting to address the inequality I saw during my years as a Humanitarian Aid Worker, a compelling factor in founding HOWS was my growing appreciation of, and fascination for, the rich textiles and embroidery I saw during my travels. Stunning embroidery made by women in remote villages in Swat Valley in the mountains of Pakistan, for example; the women were able and extremely willing to earn a living to support their families and themselves but had no way to make this happen. The textiles represented the culture and history of the people, and offered a safe and dignified livelihood for women.
We first identify the materials (mostly upcycled and vintage) and the skills available to us through our partner NGOs, women’s cooperatives and self-help groups. We then look at gaps in the market and the needs of our customers, brainstorm and sample a range of styles that can be made from the resources available. Finally, we test these out in the market - so it’s an ongoing and very fluid process.
Social consciousness is very important to you - how do the artisans you work with perceive your philosophy?
The most important thing for the women we work with, who are from very poor families in both rural and urban settings, is to be able to work from home and to receive a fair salary for the work they do. They are all well aware of how much they would get paid working for the usual middleman (which is how most women doing sewing have to work), who takes the biggest portion of their pay. Working with HOWS and our partners, they value our philosophy in that they receive a far higher salary than both the market and minimum wage, they get constant work and have the flexibility to work from home.
Thank you for your time Katherine, we wish you much success!