What is a Kantha Jacket?
Handcrafted quality. Recycled materials. Bright colours and bold patterns. Kantha Jackets have such a unique aesthetic that it’s no wonder they catch eyes.
When you buy a Kantha Jacket from Indigowares, you’re not only gaining a comfortable and sustainable wardrobe staple. Your new garment is a one-of-a kind treasure, rich in history and tradition.
What is the tradition, you may ask? This can be answered with the definition of Kantha and its history.
Where does Kantha come from?
Kantha is a type of stitching used in Indian embroidery. It is traditionally found in Bangladesh, Bengal, Odisha and Tripura.
When translated from Sanskrit, the word ‘Kantha’ means ‘rags’. This seems appropriate as Kantha textiles are traditionally created from old or vintage Saris. These recycled materials are stacked on top of each other and hand stitched together using a simple running stitch— a Kantha Stitch.
Kantha embroidery dates back 500 years, to the Bengali tradition of upcycling materials as a means of warmth and comfort by using Kantha embroidery techniques. The extra layer of warmth that these layers provide is one of the reasons you’ll frequently see Kantha blankets, bedspreads and cushions. This is also what makes Kantha the perfect textile for an upcycled jacket.
Sustainability has always been a core element of Kantha textiles. Traditionally, the yarn used to embroider was even salvaged from old materials. Not only does this make for an eco-friendly practice; the materials used in Kantha textiles are especially meaningful because each one holds a story.
The added significance of carrying well-loved materials onwards to a new purpose puts the craft of Kantha at the heart of Bengali culture. Families create Kantha textiles to be given as wedding or new baby presents, an act that forges a deeply special path from past, to present, to future. A kantha quilt made of memorable family textiles is then carried forward as a family heirloom, all sewn together with the care and intention of the maker.
The Kantha Stitch
The Kantha stitch is perfect for beginners and experts alike. It can be elaborated on based on the maker’s skill level.
You work the stitch by bringing the needle from the back side of the fabric to the front at your starting point, then repeating as desired. Usually the stitch on the backside of the cloth is shorter than the one on the front. This gives Kantha Textiles their traditional dimply wrinkled appearance. If you make the stitches closer together and tighter, the cloth will become stiffer in comparison to the stitches being further apart.
Kantha at Indigowares
I have always been drawn to Kantha Textiles. I instantly fall in love with the handmade textures and tactile quality of any vintage kantha quilt I find. I always wanted to do more with the material than admire it on my bed, which is the thought that led to Indigowares’ Kantha Jackets.
Not only is the aesthetic beautiful; the ethos of Kantha is perfectly aligned with our goals here at Indigowares. As we actively defy the fast fashion cycle in favour of a kinder and more environmental model, we have a lot to learn from the principals and craft of Kantha.
For one, the up-cycling of old saris means that no new inks or dyes are used for production. This makes it easy to ensure no additional environmental harm is caused in the creation of your jacket’s material. On top of this, it also saves the recycled Saris from becoming waste. All of these factors make Kantha a much more eco friendly option than normal clothing production methods
With craftmanship, art and beauty is at the centre of its creation, Kantha shows us a way towards a more sustainable approach to purchasing and caring for our garments and accessories. In a world of unethical production methods, Kantha quilts and their up-cycled repurposed qualities contrastingly fit into a conscious way of living and recycling. It is an art that shows us how to cherish our materials as they move from one life to the next, filled with both visual and spiritual beauty.