By Agnieszka Bielecka
What happens when you bring together two talented sisters, Indian textile artisans and inspirations from the American desert? The answer would be: Block Shop Textiles, a Los Angeles-based company run by Lily and Hopie Stockman.
Back in 2010, while Lily was living in India, she fell in love with traditional textiles from the region of Rajasthan, and was introduced to Vijendra Chhipa, a master printer of the fifth generation of local artisans, and a founder of a cooperative of hand block printers in Bagru, a little village not far from Jaipur. Lily’s sister Hopie visited India a year later, and was convinced that this ancient tradition deserved international exposure. And that’s how Block Shop Textiles began.
Large and elegant, Block Shop scarves combine traditional Rajasthani designs with minimalist desert aesthetic, an inspiration from Joshua Tree, where Lily lived for two years. The textiles are printed one at a time with hand-carved wooden blocks by experienced master printers in Bagru. Vivid colours are a result of non-toxic dyes, such as onion and pomegranate skins or turmeric, which has been used in traditional textile printing for centuries. The production’s wastewater is recycled as greywater irrigation to the fields around Bagru, keeping the process eco-friendly.
After printing, the scarves are spread out in the communal drying field and left there for three days under the hot Indian sun. Colours fixed, the textiles are boiled in a copper pot in a bath of alum and flowers, dried on the ground yet again, and shipped to LA, where the sisters are currently based.
Unique, eco-friendly products from companies caring for sustainable development are always a treat, but as if it wasn’t enough, Block Shop Textiles supports the local community of Bagru by sponsoring a mobile healthcare clinic. According to Lily and Hopie, more than 200 people received eye care treatment, and 60 were given corrective lenses. If this doesn’t convince you that fashion can change the world, I don’t know what will.
The Stockman sisters are currently developing a fall collection, and planning to expand it with a line of home textiles. Check out their website to browse through their beautiful collection of scarves.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Agnieszka Bielecka is a writer and translator born and raised in Poland. She spent several years travelling and living abroad, and is still looking for the best place to call home. She is the author of a blog Where is Somewhere Else?, where she documents her travels, inspirations, books and food.