Hand-woven peace silk: a modern take on an ancient material

By Commonwealth Fashion Council

Explore the exchange story of designer Stella McCartney from the UK and artisans Oshadi from India and find out how they created their look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, 2018.

Stella McCartney's look at Buckingham PalaceCommonwealth Fashion Council

The Exchange: UK x India

For The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange 2018, designer Stella McCartney exchanged with artisans Oshadi to create a look from peace silk. The look was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on February 19, 2018, and later moved to the Australian High Commission, London, where it was open to the public in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, April 2018.

Designer Stella McCartney by Stella McCartneyCommonwealth Fashion Council

UK: Designer Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney is a keen advocate for fair trade and female empowerment. The designer and the Oshadi factory in Southern India share an aligned value of environmental principles and social business practices. It is through Stella's appreciation for Oshadi’s skill, craft and their commitment to working with a community of weavers that helps in bringing employment to the region that has brought forth this collaboration for the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

Artisan weaving fabrics in the Oshadi workshopCommonwealth Fashion Council

India: Artisan Oshadi

It takes a weaver one day to create 5m of hand woven peace silk, compared to hundreds that can be produced by machine, but Nishanth Chopra and Richard Malone believe there’s a difference. Launched in 2016, the pair created Oshadi, a womenswear brand. 

Behind the scenes with Stella McCartney's artisans from Oshadi by OshadiCommonwealth Fashion Council

Stella McCartney's look at Australian High Commission, London by Stella McCartneyCommonwealth Fashion Council

The Exchange: UK x India

Stella McCartney created a gown using Oshadi’s peace silk, produced using ancient hand-weaving techniques, and naturally dyed by local skilled craftsmen in Tamil Nadu. 

Stella McCartney's sketch by Stella McCartneyCommonwealth Fashion Council

Illustration of the dress

Artisan from Oshadi handweavingCommonwealth Fashion Council

Peace Silk

Stella McCartney's gown was created using Oshadi’s peace silk. The material is produced using ancient hand-weaving techniques.

Natural dyes used by OshadiCommonwealth Fashion Council

Natural Dyes

The material is naturally dyed by local skilled craftsmen in Tamil Nadu.

Oshadi's weaving equipmentCommonwealth Fashion Council

The Process

Peace silk is reeled from empty cocoons, meaning that silkworms are left to hatch into moths before the silk is spun from the cocoons in a way similar to spinning wool.

Fabric weaving in the Oshadi workshopCommonwealth Fashion Council

Hand Weaving

It takes a weaver one day to create 5m of hand woven peace silk using a hand loom, compared to hundreds of meters that can be produced in one day by a machine.

The Oshadi workshopCommonwealth Fashion Council

Minimum Impact Materials

From a factory in Tamil Nadu in southern India, Oshadi’s collections are made with minimum impact on the environment, using hand woven and naturally dyed organic cotton, peace silk and linen.

Artisan outside the Oshadi workshop in IndiaCommonwealth Fashion Council

Maintaining traditional craftsmanship

Ensuring that collections are ethically produced through the supply-chain is also key to the brand, but it is maintaining skills that would otherwise be lost to industrialisation that sets Oshadi apart, working with local artisan communities to reinvent their age-old weaving and dyeing processes with modern fabric-design manipulations using innovative and sustainable materials.

Artisan from Oshadi in IndiaCommonwealth Fashion Council

The highly skilled workers in this local artisan community are retaining the culture of the region for generations to come.  

The Oshadi workshopCommonwealth Fashion Council

Stella McCartney's look at Buckingham PalaceCommonwealth Fashion Council

Final look on display at Buckingham Palace, 19 February 2018

Stella McCartney's look at Australian High Commission, London by Stella McCartneyCommonwealth Fashion Council

Final look on display at the Australian High Commission, London, 22 February 2018

Behind the Scenes of The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange 2018Commonwealth Fashion Council

Credits: Story

This content has been specifically curated for the Google Arts & Culture platform on behalf of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange exhibition that launched on the 19th of February at Buckingham Palace in partnership with Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.

The project, created and managed by Eco-Age, with the support of The Commonwealth Fashion Council and The British Fashion Council.

More information about the images is available by clicking on them.
Read more about the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at http://eco-age.com/commonwealth-fashion-exchange/

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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