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Behind-the-Scenes: Our SS17 Design Process

May 09, 2017

Our intention is to tread lightly on the Earth and have a positive impact wherever we work, so it was important to us to find partners in India who use natural pigments derived from minerals and plants in the textile dyeing process. 


The Design Process

We (Johanna and Manjot) collaborate in our Vancouver studio to create patterns, colour palettes and prints that are then taken to India and translated into textiles. Our inspirations come from the mountains, the water, global fashion, interior design, and architecture, as well as Indian crafts and fabrics. Once we are in India, we travel to Jaipur, Rajasthan and begin the prototyping process with our partners in Bagru. 

The Dyeing Process

For our inaugural collection, we sought out colours like Indigo, taupe-grey, and lemon yellow. The Indigo and taupe-grey were created using natural dyes, while other colours required a boost from non-toxic, azo-free pigments to create brighter hues (like our lemon yellow). 

First, a natural mordant harda (Terminalia chebula) is used before dyeing to bind the natural pigments to the fabric. The natural dyes in our current collection include: indigo, Indigofera tinctoria (deep blues), Alum crystals (grey tones), and fermented syahi (black). We also use un-dyed fabric in some pieces to highlight the beauty and texture of the fabric itself.

The Fabric

Our fabrics included cotton, organic cotton, and linen. Both types of cotton are grown and spun in the South of India, while our linen features fibres sourced from Belgium and Australia, and then woven in India. 

Block Printing

Some of our pieces like the Marigold Swaddle and Shark Tooth Swaddle are hand block printed with custom designs drawn by us, and carved by the experts in Bagru. The blocks are carved by hand out of North Indian Rosewood ( Dalbergia Sissoo) and are used to stamp the fabric with pigment on padded printing tables.  

Once the fabric has been dyed and printed, it is sent to stitching. Our Rise, Tor and Umbra quilts travel between several villages across Rajasthan, and are hand-stitched using the Kantha method over many weeks. The result is a beautiful, rich texture. This Kantha running stitch is traditionally used to quilt scraps of fabric together as a means of recycling & reusing; the Anara version seeks to pay homage to this ideology by using quality fabric and natural dyes. 

Have a question about our process? Send us a line at 

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