WORDS: CAMILLE SOULOS-RAMSAY
Part of the excitement of travelling the world is experiencing the distinct aesthetics and visual style of different cultures. And colour is often at the heart of this cultural expression, particularly in the beautiful clothing worn in different parts of the world.
People have been wearing colours proudly for thousands of years. From social status to artistic statements, clothing colour has had a depth of meaning we probably don’t think about when we shift through the bursting racks of fast fashion chain stores. The synthetic dyes used to make most of our fabrics colourful now are poisoning waterways and causing serious health problems for workers around the world.
Before the invention of synthetic colours, clothing dyes were sourced from nature and applied through slowly cultivated traditional techniques- gentler on the environment, the makers and the wearers. So maybe it’s time we take a look around the world at some of the kinder ways to give our clothing that pop of colour we love.
Mali - Bogolan Mud Dyeing
‘Bogolan’ means ‘made from mud’ in Mali’s main language, Bambara. The base cloth is usually dyed deep reds or yellows by boiling bark and leaves. Then, using mud which has undergone a special fermentation process, distinct patterns are painted onto the fabric using sticks, brushes or reeds. The cloth then is soaked in natural solutions which bind the colour left behind by the mud to the fabric.
Once dried, each piece of fabric becomes a totally unique work of art, in hues of red, brown, yellow, black and white, and patterns with a distinct regional aesthetic.
WORDS: CAMILLE SOULOS-RAMSAY
Did you realise your underwear could be healthy? No, before I found out about Monsoon Blooms, neither did I.
Having recently settled in India to start a life with their newborn son Cypress, husband and wife Krishna and Samantha Kamala wanted to build a business with purpose. But to proudly call that business their own, they would need it to be both ethical and sustainable, and to connect their new family with Krishna’s Indian heritage.
It was from their dedication and commitment to these ideals that Monsoon Blooms came into fruition. Crafted by their workers in Southern India, who are paid enough to ‘thrive, not survive’, Monsoon Blooms’ 100% organic cotton underwear line is coloured with ancient Ayurvedic medicinal plant dyes, which are as good for the planet as they are for you.
I spoke with Samantha and Krishna about their journey to becoming Ayurvedic underwear connoisseurs.
WORDS & PHOTOS: SAMANTHA KAMALA
It's the pride and joy of the Monsoon Blooms operation; a few wooden houses amidst the forests of Kerala dedicated to growing medicinal plants, dyeing fabrics and weaving cotton by traditional handloom. When asked how long they've been using plants to dye cloth, the owners tell us simply, "over 10,000 years. This was the work of our forefathers." Their knowledge and passion is simply unimaginable, and these photos don't nearly do it justice.