S: INDIA 2014 Cornell University - Fiber Science & Apparel Design
FC: INDIA | WINTER 2014 | FIBER SCIENCE & APPAREL DESIGN
1: We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls. ANAIS NIN
3: Although we encountered difficulties in getting to Hyderabad (including a snowstorm in NY and long hours in the Dubai airport), our group of 13 FSAD students and two faculty made it to India! Upon arriving at the Marigold Hotel in Hyderbad we were greeted with a welcoming ceremony with flowers and red powder bindi. We met the Sathguru team, and then went on a bus to the Shilparamam Market. The market is an arts and crafts village located in Hyderabad created to preserve traditional crafts. The shop owners recognized us as foreigners and were persistent that we enter their shops -- they did not accept 'no' as an answer! We all returned to the hotel with samples of India crafts and new bargaining skills - we used them for the rest of the trip. | WELCOME TO INDIA! JANUARY 5
4: At the Monsanto Cotton Production Facility we toured cotton fields, greenhouses, and some of the biotech labs. We learned that 95% of cotton grown in India is Bt cotton. Our guides demonstrated emasculation and cross pollination, as a method of creating hybrid cotton seeds. We saw cotton bolls right from the plant and watched the ginning of a batch of experimental cotton. The cotton fiber was amazingly soft—we had felt cotton fiber samples in class but the cotton growing in the boll was a new experience. JANUARY 6
5: We visited Suryavanshi Cotton Mills to tour its facilities and learn how cotton yarn is produced, but found that the mill does not process cotton anymore; instead they produce polyester yarn. Our guide explained that there is not much profit in cotton yarn at the moment. The polyester fiber arrives at the mill in huge 400 kg. bales. The bales are opened and the fibers are mixed together and then carded to form a thick continuous wide strand called sliver. The sliver is made thinner and helix-like through drawing. The various strands of sliver are further combined and then spun together to form a yarn. Yarn bobbins are combined in a final step to create a finer, less fuzzy yarn. From the mill, the yarn is distributed in the Andhra Pradesh region. In our classes we learn about each of these processes through watching videos, but nothing compares to seeing it with your own eyes. This visit was short but its impact will be long-lasting. JANUARY 7
6: We visited Pochampally Handloom Park to learn about rural employment opportunities and traditional Indian textile crafts. Workers and management alike showed us the intricate processes of ikat dyeing and weaving beautiful cotton and silk saris. The process of dying the warp (and sometimes the weft as well!) before weaving was quite elaborate, requiring great skill, and creates unique and beautiful fabrics. We had such a great time getting to know the workers and snapping pictures with them -- they even let us try our hand at weaving on the looms! JANUARY 8 | POCHAMPALLY HANDLOOM PARK
7: Side trip to CHARMINAR - "Four Towers" As soon as we arrived we were surrounded by vendors, cars, motorcycles, and many many people. It was the busiest area that we have been in so far, and we had to walk in a single file line in order to avoid being hit by cars and stay out of vendors’ ways. The Charminar, built in 1591, is a monument and mosque located in Hyderabad. The landmark has become a global icon of Hyderabad, listed among the most recognized structures of India. The capstone of our visit to Charminar, was walking through the 'bangle section' which is collection of narrow streets filled with stalls selling hundreds of thousands of bangles and other jewelry.
8: On this day we visited Shravan Kumar, an Indian fashion designer well known in Hyderabad. He went to the London School of Fashion, and now designs both men’s and women’s wear for Indian weddings and ceremonial events using traditional Indian textiles and techniques. | To give you a sense of his extravagant personality, when we entered his studio, his first words were, “Fashion is my religion.” We then had coffee and cookies while we learned about his design process and the steps he goes through in order to create a collection. | Shravan Kumar gave a master class in which we developed ideas for our own collections starting with a general mood board and continuing with specific colors, fabrics, silhouettes, structures, trims, and the target market. | We were then shown the production side of the process, including the embroidery and beading. It was quite amazing to see the skill of the workers as they created beautiful patterns with tiny beads and thread. We ended our day by visiting Isha Craft, a store that sells a variety of saris including one woven of gold.
9: "FASHION IS MY RELIGION" - SHRAVAN KUMAR JANUARY 9
10: We were lucky enough to visit the boutique of world-renowned designer Tarun Tahiliani, who made his name by adapting the traditional Indian aesthetic of vibrant colors, opulent embroideries, surface designs, and using high-end construction, patterning, tailoring, to develop constructed ceremonial garments loaded with exquisite detail. Nishrin, the store manager, invited all of us to try on any of the garments, as they would soon bring in the new season. Needless to say, we had loads of fun trying on ridiculously expensive but absolutely beautiful saris that were worthy of an Indian princess fairy tale!
11: JANUARY 10 | Friday also included a visit to the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) for an introduction to the school’s curriculum, and interaction with some of their students. A notable feature in NIFT’s curriculum is their Craft Cluster Initiative, where students get to spend four weeks with local craftsmen to be trained in traditional Indian textile arts. This is a fantastic and important part of the NIFT experience because it gives students the opportunity to inherit the quickly fading practice of traditional Indian textile techniques.
13: BANGALORE, INDIA | Already halfway through the trip, we flew south from Hyderabad to Bangalore to meet our hosts from Hand Over Heart. On the way to the hotel, Jennifer gave us a treat of fresh Indian coconuts! In the evening we met our sponsor, Ajit Khaitani, and learned about the inspiring work he does through his company. Then, to end our first day in Bangalore we toured United Dry Goods, the HOH product development facility in Bangalore where garment samples are created. JANUARY 11
14: On this day we had a beautiful morning stroll through Lallbagh Botanical Park, with a personal tour guided by our hosts from HOH, followed by traditional South Indian coffee and brunch! Now we felt like family members and not tourists, thanks to our wonderful sponsors. JANUARY 12
17: ROMA, ITALY | A very full day! We started off the day by visiting Master Rao's Temple of Hope Opportunity and Happiness-also known as UDG's Apparel Manufacturing Unit. Once there, we went step by step through the construction of a child's cargo pant. Our second stop was the Jyothy Fabricare Services, a laundry facility for both individuals and corporations such as airlines. There were enormous washers and dryers, and stain removal and ironing stations. Their final finishing touches were to package the clothes they cleaned, to return them to the customer as if they were brand new. Next we went to have lunch and tour the Vogue Institute of Fashion Technology. It was a great opportunity to see the facilities and talk to the students! We spent the evening at ISCONN. The temple was a sight, one that words could not even begin to describe. There were figurines of gold that were adorned with flowers, devoted followers praying, and ornate decorations everywhere. It was breathtaking and a beautiful end to a busy day. JANUARY 13
18: On this day we celebrated Pongol, a Hindi festival, in a rural village with UDG associates. We were greeted by women of all ages who decorated us with fresh flowers and bindis. We learned how UDG is working directly with the villagers and their future development plans. For our own contribution, we planted mango trees. Then we were all wrapped in saris and covered in jewels and glitter from head to toe! We participated in the Pongal ceremony, which consisted of offerings to the gods and painting cows. We ate Pongol with our hands off of banana leaves and then served the villagers their meal. The music was lively and we exchanged our dance moves with the children. At the end of the day the women in the village created henna masterpieces on our hands and arms before our departure. JANUARY 14
19: The experience was incredible We learned so much about the villagers and their traditions, it will definitely be an experience that we will never forget!
20: Bannerghatta National Park & Fabindia JANUARY 15
21: Today we experienced some of India's finest wildlife as well as its handicrafts. We started our day on a wild safari of lions, tigers and bears (oh my!) at Bannerghatta National Park followed by a tour of Bangalore's zoo. The safari was not only tons of fun, but gave us an introduction to India's indigenous and endangered creatures in a semi-natural environment. After lunch, we spent some time at Fabindia, one of India's largest and finest retailers. Fabindia's mission is to support India's handmade crafts and allow village-dwelling artisans to profit from their unique skills. Currently, Fabindia carries a variety of clothing for men, women, and children, in addition to accessories, home linens, furniture, dishware, skincare, and organic foods. Fabindia has 18 stores in the Bangalore area alone, and many more all over India.
22: We got up bright and early and headed to Mysore for the day. The bus ride was long and grueling but the drive was beautiful. Eventually, we arrived at the Ramanagar cocoon market where a huge number of silkworm cocoons were being bought and sold. We saw a few different varieties of cocoons while shuffling through large masses of people, and then got to the testing labs. It was very interesting to see both the market part of this facility and learn about how a single fiber is extracted from each cocoon. Our next stop was a silk weaving mill where we got to see every stage of the silk fabric making process. Watching the winding and warping all the way to the weaving, we wandered the very loud facility in awe at the hidden beauty in the process of silk weaving.
23: BREATHTAKING MYSORE PALACE After that, we went to Mysore palace where the maharajah used to reside. Since we were being escorted by the daughter-in-law of a spiritual adviser for the last maharajah, we were considered royal guests. We were given a private tour of the palace and saw several secret rooms not open to the public. The palace was truly incredible. The colors, architecture, and grandeur of the palace were fantastic. After our tour, we got to do one thing that we had wanted to do the whole trip - ride the royal elephants! Needless to say, it was certainly a highlight of the day. JANUARY 16
24: OUR FINAL AND BUSIEST DAY IN INDIA! JANUARY 17
25: On our last day we visited the Army Institute of Fashion Design in Bangalore, a denim treatment laundry, and a fabric testing lab called Bureau Veritas it was a great ending to an incredible trip. We started off the morning at the Army institute of Fashion Design and we were impressed with school program and the facilities. We were fortunate to meet a master of block printing at AIFD and even participated in a demonstration! Our next visit was to Bureau Veritas, which is a Fabric testing lab. It was interesting to see how actual garment fabrics and products were tested for quality, using the same tools and equipment we use in our classes. Next we were off to Ramdhan Laundries where jeans undergo the final finishing processes. We were amazed to see how the workers literally work on the jeans one pair at a time, like an artist on a canvas,to give the denim a distressed look.
26: To end our incredible trip, we enjoyed dinner at the beautiful Karanataka Golf Association Facility with our wonderful hosts! A warm thank you to Mr. Khatani, Nilima, Jennifer, Pooja, Sundeep and to the rest of the H.O.H crew. It was an experience that we will never forget! JANUARY 17
27: FAREWELL DINNER