Above from left to right: My son Haruka and I, in Varanasi – in the early days. I am wearing the Ladak dress in raw silk. In the centre, Liddie Holt modelling the same dress. Finally, a more recent photo in Jaipur looking at veg dye swatches for future collections on my hotel balcony.
Clothes and fabrics are a form of expression and creativity. Textiles are an old, old language. Woven in homes and villages for thousands of years to signify expression and belonging as well as, obviously, for practical use.
I started my journey producing clothing more than fifteen years ago. At the time, I was living in Varanasi (India) a magical place of pilgrimage and prayer, also famous for hand woven silks and other incredible hand loom fabrics. I had made a friend, Kamu, a tailor who had inherited his father’s small shop in an alleyway called Bengali Tola that runs all the way behind the Ghats, parallel to the river Ganga. I started to explore designing and producing the clothes that I could see in my head and really wanted to wear, but could not find either in India or in the shops I knew back in England.
It turned out that other women, upon seeing the clothes I had made for myself, also wanted to wear the earthy, natural, well-tailored but feminine and minimalist, style of clothing that I was developing. So, Kamu and I embarked on making my first collection a reality. I sent it to my friend’s shop in Nottingham. The label I put on them was ‘Jasmine Fish,’ named after a goldfish I once had (don’t ask me why, I really don’t know!)
My vision has always been that the current clothes in the Haruka range fit together with the colours and shapes of those from previous and future years. But not as a totally fixed plan. I source a lot of my fabrics (not all) hunting and gathering in the fabric surplus market in Delhi. This is for a multitude of reasons. I love a good treasure hunt and I love the challenge. But also, I am using up fabrics that have already been created and discarded which means I am using what is already there. Re using and recycling. It also means I never know what I am going to find so it keeps me creating and it means the pieces that I make from these fabrics are all limited-edition pieces. They will not be made again. I design them to last.
Above from left to right: An Indian market scene, taken whilst hunting and gathering fabrics. In the centre, our new cotton knitted jersey, finally made it to the cutting table after being commissioned especially for Haruka. Lastly, Dot in the “My Bubble Dress”; one of the designs in our new transeasonal collection available now. https://haruka.co.uk/product-category/new-in/
Above from left to right: Ghanshayam, my friend and pattern cutter, working on the first sample of the Boho Dress, which is currently available in Hawthorn Red and Moss Green. https://haruka.co.uk/product/boho-maxi-dress-cotton-hawthorn-red/
In the centre, a shot of the factory where I make the Haruka bags. In this picture I am working with the pattern cutter there to lay the pattern on the fabric for each individual bag. Finally, Ambika modelling the final outcome, one of our classic Haruka bags in a Tribal design. The production of which…. is a whole other story!
To be honest, I rarely know what is ‘in fashion’ from season to season. Haruka takes inspiration from women’s bodies and women’s stories; tribal style and the hand feel and drape of the fabrics I find. They have their own story to reveal, just as the women who wear my clothes do. I want the clothes that I design to encourage and inspire women to express themselves.
Above from left to right: the Moss Green cotton jersey on the cutting table in the small family run factory I work with in Rajasthan. In the centre, Gabby wearing one of the designs from this fabric; the swirl top. And finally Dot wearing the Blue Butterfly Trouser with Dorje Waistcoat in Desert Nomad. This is made from one of the fabrics I sourced in the Delhi surplus markets. I have a small amount of this fabric left in India; and will make a few more pieces but after that, there will never be any more as I will never be able to get that exact fabric again. That’s one of the reasons my clothing is unique.
The soul of Haruka clothing is to Unfold Your Own Myth.
Thanks and Praises
LINKS TO THE NEW COLLECTION: