Everyone likes a little bit of a free-spirited vibe in their wardrobe—think bohemian, gypsy or tribal chic. Speaking of which, we’re reminded of a fabric that ties together all of these words. Textile aficionados guessed it right: we’re decoding pattern-heavy ikat. What’s not to love!
Ikat in a bunch
Ikat is a technique of tie and dye that developed simultaneously in Latin America, Central Asia, Africa, South east Asia and Japan. Although known by different names across these regions, ikat essentially refers to a method of dyeing fabric. The weavers bunch together and tie up the yarns before dipping them in dye, to produce patterns. The patterned yarn is then woven into fabric to produce characteristic, polka, zig-zag, diamond shaped or other unique patterned fabric. Think of it a bit like spray painting but a lot more difficult to actually do! Ikat fabric can be cotton or silk. A type of silk ikat woven in Gujarat is also famously called patola.
Why should you invest in ikat?
Ikat is special for many reasons. For one, it is a heritage textile with a global heart. So girls who love wearing, conserving and supporting heritage weaves but are not especially comfortable with doing desi, can rejoice! Ikat also requires a lot of skill to produce, so by buying a piece of ikat, you’re also supporting skilled artists from going out of the market. Since ikat is a high-value textile art, it is a fun yet sophisticated and classy way to bring the boheme vibe into your wardrobe, perhaps even into your trousseau! And finally, ikat is a great way to experiment with pattern-clashing outfits.
It’s important to remember that a lot of ikat replicas proliferate the market. These are fabrics that have been painted over to imitate real ikat patterns. So make sure to buy only from trusted design houses and weaver co-operatives or simply turn the fabric over to check that the pattern shows on the inside and out.
Designers who love ikat
Did you know that the first ever traditional textile to be revived by the fashion industry was ikat? Abraham and Thakore worked with the double ikat in a collection in 1992. This collection went global and popularised the Andhra style ikat weave. Other designers who have worked with ikat include Rajesh Pratap Singh, Suket Dhir, Gaurang, Anita Dongre, Deepika Govind and Tarun Tahiliani among others. On the global level, major fashion labels including Oscar de la Renta and Dior have dedicated exclusive collections to this fabric.
Styling your ikat
Need a few quick tips on styling ikat? We’ve got your back!
- Wearing an ikat scarf with a classic white shirt and trousers adds colour to your work wear. Investing in single pieces like a scarf, palazzos or a bomber jacket is a good way to spice up your daily wardrobe.
- Invest in ikat sets like a jacket and dress or a shirt and a saree that can be combined to make a beautiful, pattern clashing outfit for a reception or party.
Which is your favourite ikat look?