Natasha Chambers Turns Her Vacations Into Textiles

Come on—ya ready to hit the road?!

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Natasha Chambers has been all over the map—for real. And these days, her travels do double-duty: The things she spots outta town feed straight into her dreamy scarf line Lissy Verkade. Just get a load of some of the awesome trips she’s taken—and the textile designs they’ve inspired. —jane gauger

California Coast & Desert

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“For our honeymoon two years ago, Olly and I procured a Winnebago in San Francisco. We traveled through the fog to Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Santa Barbara—all the famous surf spots—down to Encinitas and San Diego. I was obsessed with the skies on this trip.”

image“Afterwards, I compiled all the pictures and montaged them to make the print on my Sky Scarf.”

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“One highlight from our honeymoon trip was getting off the coast and traveling to the desert to Joshua Tree National Park. We had the most amazing time clamoring on the rocks in incredible light. The place has such energy.”

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“When the long shadows come out as the sun goes down, it’s so special. It inspired one of my favorite illustrations, which I also made into a silk scarf.”

India

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“I went to India when I was 18. I traveled all over with my sister, Yolanda.

We first stayed at my friend’s father’s house in a tiny village with a beautiful valley. He hadn’t been there for a few years, and when we opened his house as the sun was going down, we realized in horror that it was swarming with spiders! We got used to them.”

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“My scarves are printed in India now, and the last time I went back was for a month six years ago. I’ve wanted to make a documentary on the craftspeople. I will go back again soon, I hope.”

Costa Rica

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“Olly and I have been going to Costa Rica for the last five years. The southern part of the country, where we have been going recently, has the highest bio diversity in the world, and you are literally surrounded by flora and fauna. The insects are really bold and have awesome patterns.”

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“I love when animals have big markings to warn off predators and make them look fierce. This is where I got the inspiration for my Eye of the Butterfly print.”

Snag that scarf up there right this second—just click over here.

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See the Dope, Textile-Fueled Mary Meyer x Purush Collab

Fabrics from India plus designs from Brooklyn.

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“Purush’s workshop in India—it’s a relaxed and inspiring environment with beautiful light and textures,” Mary explains.

“I met Purush designer, Vaarun Vohra, the very first weekend my shop was open in Bushwick,” recalls the crazy-talented artist-slash-designer Mary Meyer. “He walked into the store, and I told him I loved his shirt—an exquisite necklace collar button-up in an oatmeal grey linen-and-silk. He told me it was his design.” Well, clearly, they had to find a way to work together: After Mary started selling Vaarun’s designs, they teamed up on a collection. Mary got busy with the silhouettes while Vaarun worked on the materials—handmade by artisans in India. “Since I started my line, it has been important for me to make the brand as sustainable as possible. I feel lucky to have access to special fabrics I normally couldn’t find,” Mary says. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to go to India with Vaarun soon.” Here, take a look at the results of this two-continent collab. —alisha prakash

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“This is the Crazy Jacket. It’s amazing! The fabric is made from recycled silk and is a thick, loose weave. When designing this jacket, I started with the fabric, which is very extreme and bold. I wanted to make it clean, trim, and simple—so that the jacket would be bold, but wearable.”

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“This is the Erin Jacket, a classic MM silhouette—bat wing and flowy. The fabric is that oatmeal grey linen-and-silk material that first attracted me to Purush. I like to think of this silhouette for a gallery owner—big, oversize shapes and artistic prints for someone who’s rich as hell, super-successful, and very smart.”

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“The Zipper Dress is made from this amazing ikat. Lightweight and flattering, this dress has been one of the best sellers from the collab. For me, it would be a perfect summer picnic or rooftop party dress. Make it grungy with Docs or sexy with a chunky heel.” 

Get the hyper-graphic edition Mary made for us—a total MM classic in the making.

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Annie Williams’s Enviously Well-Packed Travel Bag

This will make you feel like a putz for checking luggage for a weekend trip.

In addition to making beauuutiful bags, running marathons, and skiing pretty much anything she can—you know, no big thang—Annie Williams is an avid traveler who’s headed off to India for the month of February. Embrace her essentials-only mindset to finally break free from that luggage carousel. —carlye wisel

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"Eucalyptus, the earth’s natural antiseptic. Solid shampoo and solid toothpaste tabs from LUSH (no spills no mess!!!). Cinnamon, tea-tree toothpicks—perfect for when you can’t brush your teeth—and an Adventure towel, which holds three times its weight in water!”

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"There’s no need to bring a lot of clothes! Women travelling to India will find the most respect and acceptance by wearing a traditional Indian kurti. And, it’s not common to wear shorts in India, but i can’t leave home without my favorite Wrangler cut-off shorts—in case of emergency."

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Moleskine journal, zipper clutch, passport, Indian rupees, and a disposable camera. Without a phone on my person at all times, it’s nice to have a candid way to document the trip.”

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"Though I’m trying to pack light, Dr. Bronner’s All-In-One Soap is essential! I use this for anything from washing my clothes to brushing my teeth.”

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"Lastly, I’m bringing my best friend Nicole. She is responsible for building my website, shooting my lookbook, developing product, and making music videos for me. I couldn’t do most of what I do without her, including this trip."

Come back tomorrow for Annie’s travel-ready edition! It’s ready to go wherever you do.

Photos by Nicole Irene.

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Morgan Carper Gets Outta Town

Take a trip through each of her destination-focused collections.

During an eight-month journey to basically every nook and cranny of Asia, Morgan Carper discovered an incredible number of unheard of local design techniques. “That trip was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life—to meet with different artisans and see how their craft had been preserved, and not preserved in some cases,” Morgan explains. “That’s when I knew I wanted to integrate travel into fashion.” So she set out on a mission to combine her textile expertise with unique beadwork and embroidery culled from the places she visits to create each of her stunning, romantic-bohemian collections. Here’s how she’s done it. —monica derevjanik

Now’s your chance the land the perfect-for-fall wool cape Morgan made for us! It most definitely shows off her affection for textiles.


Turkey - Fall 2011
“This was my first collection, so it was overwhelmingly amazing to translate an experience like this into something more tangible that others eventually got to be a part of. I didn’t get to meet with many artisans while we were there, but two of the fabrics I bought were made in Turkey. We ended up doing a lot of really full dresses with pleats, metalwork, beadwork, and more traditional Eastern references in the collection. The ancient mosques we saw were instrumental in the conception of the collection as well.”

Arizona high deserts - Spring 2012
“Spring 2012 was inspired by the high plains of Arizona. There’s a book called Half Broke Horses, and the author talks about her grandmother, Lily Casey, who was this rough, tough, woman on a ranch in Arizona. She was fiercely independent but had this style that was unique for that time, especially for being a rural countrywoman. I ended up going to the area where Lily Casey spent most of her life and based the collection off of her style. Creating this collection was especially fun for me because there’s something about the American West that’s fascinating. I don’t know what it is, but I’m just naturally drawn to the desert landscape and vast open spaces. In fact, each of my collections has an underlying Southwestern theme.”

Vietnam and Laos - Fall 2012
“I was lucky enough to spend time with skilled artisans that practice indigo dyeing, tapestry work, ikat weaving, and batik printing. The custom prints from this particular collection were inspired by the traditional batik and tapestry weavings from different Hmong tribes in the region. It’s always about the textiles for me, and Southeast Asia has such a rich history of textiles.”

Rajasthan, India - Spring 2013
I am powerlessly allured by the desert, and I decided to visit Rajasthan. I carefully planned this trip around meetings with artisans that specialize in block printing and embroidery, which eventually led to creating some of the fabrics in this collection. One of the highlights of the trip was taking motorcycles to a small Muslim village about 30 miles from the Pakistan border where they specialize in intricate metallic hand-embroidery. They showed us their craft while we sat on the floor in their brightly colored homes with all the village children hovering above us. They were giggling over my short blond hair, not understanding why I looked like a boy.” 

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Morgan Carper

The Brooklyn-based designer Morgan Carper sure does like the road less traveled. After graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in textile design and completing internships with designers like Jeremy Scott, she saved her pennies before setting off (all by herself!) on an eight-month voyage across Asia. What she encountered, beyond amazing food and incredible sights, were talented artists who were forced to work in large factories churning out mass-market fashion, thus stifling their creative customs. “It was frustrating to see these highly skilled artisans, who have been practicing a rich, traditional craft for their entire lives, have to leave that behind,” Morgan explains.

Her odyssey sparked an idea: Morgan decided to create her own line and to commission these local artisans to do block printing, beading, and embroidery to incorporate in her own work. By 2010, Morgan had launched her eponymous line that draws on all of her travel experiences—we’re talking India, Thailand, the Arizona high deserts—incorporating wanderlust-induced discoveries into every piece. Each collection tells the story of a recent adventure, pulling narrative from each destination’s textiles, beadwork, and other details that don’t often find their way onto clothing racks. And trips lined up to Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and Big Sur have us pretty damn excited for the killer collections to come. —monica derevjanik

morgancarper.com

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Study Sustainability

Get the lowdown on the high-minded designer’s innovative eco-practices.

Spend five minutes with Tara St James, the designer behind Study, and you quickly learn two things: She’s Canadian, and she cares deeply about making clothes that are good for the planet. Ok, maybe three: Those clothes have to be awesome-looking, too. Here’s a peek at some of the directives she’s adopted to deliver her brand of eco magic. —jessie pascoe


An Indigo Handloom weaver. (Photo by Susan Bowlus.)

“Study is made in NYC. If I can’t do it in NYC, then I will do it somewhere where there is a culture and history of doing that kind of production.”


A dress for fall 2012 made of hand-woven cotton crafted by Indigo Handloom.

“I found Indigo Handloom in India through Source4Style, a sourcing website for sustainable textiles that has been crucial to the development of my fall 2012 collection.”


An alpaca sweater hand-knit in Peru paired with skirt made from Indigo Handloom cotton—both among Tara’s fall designs.

“These knits for my fall 2012 collection are done by home-knitters in Peru. A friend of mine also works with these knitters, and she introduced me to them. The sustainable-design community is a lot more transparent than the traditional fashion community, and colleagues share good vendors in an effort to pool our resources and keep the small factories in business.”


Tara’s very versatile four-way dress.

“No-waste pattern-making is something I started doing with my first 2009 collection. The entire collection was done with zero waste, so it was all squares cut out of fabrics and then manipulated in a certain way. The first piece was really simple—I still produce that piece, called the four-way dress. Every time I give it out to stylists, they find a new way to put it on. People are a little apprehensive at first, but it has lasted five seasons. And I just keep on finding good fabrics for it.”

To see what Tara made just for us, click here: As with everything the Study designer creates, our shibori-dyed tee is eco-cool.

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The Making of A Peace Treaty Jewelry

There’s nothing easy about creating this line, and that’s how the designers like it.

When Farah Malik and Dana Arib decided to grow A Peace Treaty beyond the stunning, ornate scarves they had become known for and add jewelry to the mix, they didn’t look for a local producer to realize their vision—that’s not how they roll. Instead, they hunted down artisans abroad who could lend a unique vision to their pieces, and, with every collection, they employ different makers and methods. “Sometimes it’s complete self-sabotage—working with groups where the learning curve is high, coming to an understanding and finally getting the design right, and then next season completely changing it,” Farah explains. “It’s a little bit challenging.” Ah, but it’s an interesting challenge and one that Farah is happy to talk us through. —lauren benet stephenson


The Of a Kind creation! Click here to score one of the 20 before they’re gone.

For the necklace we made for Of a Kind, we were inspired by the jewelry of nomadic desert tribes like the matriarchal Berber Taureg of North Africa. We researched ancient civilizations, amulets, talismans, old ritual emblems, matriarchal leaders, and the countries that have a history with these particular techniques. We found a region we wanted to work in—Rajastan, India—and explored ways to incorporate their own traditional design aesthetic.”


Camel-bone earrings from their past Thar collection.

“Each season we introduce one new element. We did camel-bone carving for a previous collection because we found these gypsy families that used every other part of the camel—so it’s actually really sustainable. They had to trash the bone otherwise.”


A lava-stone ring from their upcoming spring collection

“For our next collection, we’ll be working in Uruguay and incorporating agate, lapis, and lava stone. Every season, we’re going in a new direction and going back to the drawing board. But we always end up saying, ‘Wow, it looks like it’s A Peace Treaty!”’

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Where in the World is A Peace Treaty?

This twosome and their adventures put Carmen Sandiego to shame.

In their pursuit to make the most stand-out, thoughtfully-sourced jewelry and scarves possible, A Peace Treaty has racked up some serious frequent-flier miles. Here, co-founder Farah Malik gives us a global tour of the sites where she and co-founder Dana Arib have worked.lauren benet stephenson

Afghanistan
“While in Afghanistan, we focused on embroidery, using their cultural design aesthetic for inspiration. We’ve worked with a widowed-women’s organization—Afghan Hands.”

Bolivia and Peru
“We trekked to Bolivia and Peru to work with the Aymarra and Quechua indigenous artisans on knitting our collections.”


The line’s hand-dyed fabrics drying in the sun in Lahore, Pakistan.

Pakistan and Nepal
“We bought wooden looms for artisans who previously had to give up a family tradition because of a lack of demand. In Pakistan and Nepal, we work with hand-weavers, silk-screeners, and block-printers. We also bring dip-dyeing, sewing, and printing work to widowed or disabled women so they can work out of their own homes.”


Bone being shaped for jewelry.

Turkey and Rajasthan desert
“We had done a lot of research on bone jewelry, and what we noticed was that the trades had been dying out since the seventies when resins and plastics took over. So, we resuscitated camel-bone carving for our THAR jewelry collection. The task was then to find artisans who have a history with the trade—this is where our wild goose chase started.”

India
“The edition we designed for Of a Kind [Ed: Coming tomorrow!] was crafted by a group of artisans in Rajastan, India, but we were originally inspired by the jewelry of nomadic desert tribes—especially the Berber Taureg tribe that lives in North Africa. We were particularly moved by the Fourth Century Taureg queen Tin Hinan who was found buried in her tomb covered in robes and opulent jewelry on every part of her body.”

Now’s your chance to score the made-in-India edition the girls designed. It’s a necklace, it’s a ring, it’s amazing.

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Of a Kind

Sara Beltrán, the Jaipur, India-based designer behind Dezso, gives us another reason to covet neonbecause there’s no such thing as too many, duh. —jiayi

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Tanya’s Four Sourcing Hot Spots

The designer picks up her construction materials and techniques on jaunts to Mexico and India.

When you want to discover new materials or pick up new techniques, sometimes you’ve got to get out of town. And for Tanya Aguiñiga, who makes bold, pliable jewelry from her Los Angeles workshop, that means heading all over the globe: to her native Mexico, the Northeastern U.S., Alaska, and India. This is what appeals about each destination.
 

Bold rope for sale in Chiapas

Mexico
I grew up on the border, but I never traveled that much in Mexico—I never really had a sense of my Mexican identity. So in 2007, I started traveling to different places in Mexico, and Chiapas was one place I felt super, super attached to. It has the largest population of indigenous people in North America, and everybody works with their hands. There’s a really long textile history in that region, and so the colors and techniques are something that I was drawn to. Then in Oaxaca, there’s a lot of clay work. Every little town does a different type of technique.”


Pelts at a shop in Alaska

Alaska
“Last time I was there, I bought a bunch of leather-working stuff. There are all these specialty gloves and needles and threads used to sew salmon skin that I’ve never seen in the lower 48.”


Yarn by the pound in R.I.

Rhode Island
“I went to grad school in Rhode Island at RISD. Rhode Island has a huge textile history because that’s where the Industrial Revolution started in the U.S. as far as the big mills go. There’s a lot of leftover yarn from different factories all over Rhode Island. I go through boxes and buy yarn by the pound.”


Block printing and dyes in India

India
“I visited one family that has done block printing for hundreds of years. They carve their own blocks and make these dyes that change colors when you boil them—it looks like everything’s been printed with a big printer, it’s so precise.”

Score the piece Tanya constructed just for us: an awesome, oversize gold-leafed cuff.

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