Alina Raetsep: An Allegory Of Artisanal Swag

Artisanal aka “made in a traditional or non-mechanized way”. Alina Raetsep of SIX Magazine divulges on the one topic she is truly passionate about — traditional artisanal skill-ship. In China, mind you.工艺师制作的商品是以传统或非机械化的方式创造的。SIX 杂志主编 Alina Raetsep 解释她对 (中国) 传统手工艺技能的热情。

Knowledge that survived generations, in some cases hundreds of years. That is a truly Raetsep-fascinating and -gripping idea. 代代相传的传统技艺,有些手工艺甚至已经流传了上百年. Raetsep 被传统手工艺的精髓其深深地吸引了.

SIX Magazine’s Alina Raetsep is one doozy dudette who can be likened to the Secret Santa of sustainable design. When Raetsep started SIX Magazine, at times referred to as the Ethical Fashion Bible, she was an eager puppy jumping for joy at the chance to cover all sorts of ethical fashion. Over the years, that boiled down to one topic she is truly passionate about: Traditional artisanal skillship. Spotted across the vast and far-fetching lands of the Middle Kingdom, in this case. A gift passed on from parents to their children, from teachers to their pupils. Knowledge that survived generations, in some cases hundreds of years. That is a truly fascinating and Raetsep-gripping idea. It’s fair to say that nowhere in the world has the knowledge of the past generations been preserved to the extent it has been in Asia, namely China and Japan. Having lived and researched the subject in both places, when Temper asked her to jot something down on this topic, we were shooting straight down her lane.
当开始做 SIX 杂志 的时候,那时的 Raetsep 对道德时尚(ethical fashion)怀有极大的兴趣,然而几年过去,她慢慢发现真正吸引她的其实只有一个主题——传统手工艺。传统手工艺是由父母传给孩子,师傅传给徒弟,代代相传的传统技艺,有些手工艺甚至已经流传了上百年。Raetsep 被传统手工艺的精髓其深深地吸引了。她认为在全世界范围内能把传统如此完整地保存下来的就只有亚洲,更具体地说,中国和日本。Raetsep 在中国和日本都生活过,并对当地的传统手工艺做了调查研究。当 Temper 的编辑 Elsbeth van Paridon 邀请 Raetsep 写一些有关这方面的文章时,她是找对人了。

Thus far the Temper intro to this one-of-a-kind Estonian ace in the non-fast fashion field. Raetsep, you sizzling Santa Baby, the floor is yours! 我们总结我们的 Temper 介绍。 Raetsep,告诉我们所有关于你的激情!

When I first moved to China I felt as if I entered a parallel reality, something of an “upside down” of the world – so many things were the same and yet everything was so starkly different. One of my all time favourite memories is riding my bike down Beijing’s hutong streets in the summertime. The incredible feeling I got passing ancient temples that stood the test of time despite everything that has happened to the world and to the country – I always come back to this image in my head when I think about Beijing. That was the time I fell passionately in love with the city, the food, the traditional Chinese courtyards – the lot. I was also privileged to have gotten to know some of the movers and shakers in the design and fashion world in China. As I spent time with them and got to see their work process I realized how important their roots were to them. They may have studied in London or New York, they may have lived elsewhere in the world, but China was in every fiber of their life and work. They dig deep in their ancestral land’s rich history and they tie the traditional elements to the modern China they live in, bringing spectacular work to life.

The silhouettes were haunting and the execution of the designs most impeccable. They made Wang one of my all time favorites. 具有视觉冲击力的外形设计,无可挑剔的制作。正是这个系列使王成了我最喜欢的设计师之一。

One of such people I got to know was Vega Zaishi Wang. A young London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design-educated designer, Wang entered the fashion scene with a bang with her “Alpha Lyrae” collection. This eight-piece lineup harnessed electroluminescent technology to “evoke the beauty of cosmos”. To create her luminous dresses, Wang teamed up with the lads from Top Right Optoelectronics, printing the silk with images of various constellations and nebulas and then using electroluminescent paper to back the silk.
王在实(Vega Wang)就是我认识的设计师当中的一位,毕业于伦敦艺术大学时装学院和伦敦圣马丁艺术与设计学院,王凭借她的“Alpha Lyrae”系列一举打进了时尚界。八件运用电致发光技术做成的服装“唤起了宇宙之美”。为了制作可发光的裙子,王与 Top Right Optoelectronics 的技术人员联手,将各种星座星云的图案印到了丝绸上,再用电致发光纸将丝绸托起来。

[A glimpse of enlightenment — courtesy of The Creators Project YouTube Channel]

Hanging out with Wang on the rooftop of her studio in the summer of 2013, sipping coffee and talking about her quirky tattoos, I remember wondering aloud about her most striking collection at the time, “the Nomads”. The silhouettes were haunting, and the execution of the designs most impeccable. This was the collection that forever made Wang one of my all time favorite designers. Wang’s answer to getting the best results: Italian fabrics and local Beijing seamstresses.

2013 年的夏天,我和王一起在她工作室的屋顶上闲聊,一边喝着咖啡,一边谈论着她那古怪的纹身,并谈起她当时最引人注目的 Nomads 系列。具有视觉冲击力的外形设计,无可挑剔的制作。正是这个系列使王成了我最喜欢的设计师之一。当我问到如何能呈现最好的设计效果时,王回答到:意大利的面料加上北京本地的裁缝。

Her entire operation at the time was housed in a renovated traditional Chinese courtyard house managed by three sisters, and she took me downstairs to the workshop where I watched the incredible pieces come to life. Embroidery, stitching, everything down to zips and buttons made with such precision, such skill. It was all in the hands of the women who were recreating elements of their great-great-great-grandmothers work.

Vega 当时全部的生产加工都是在一座改造的传统四合院中,由她的三个姐妹打理,她带我到楼下的作坊,在那里我亲眼目睹了一片片的布料是如何奇迹般地变成成衣的过程。从绣花、拼接、到装拉链和钉钮扣,一切都是那么地精准,这些都是对祖辈传统工艺的传承和再创作。

My time with Vega got me thinking about traditional Chinese clothing making and I started to look around for designers who were incorporating such traditions into their work on a larger scale. Enter Angel Chang of Atelier ANGEL CHANG, a rising star of innovative fashion design with the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award and Cartier Women’s Initiative Award under her belt for such advancements like self-heating linings and color-changing prints. An urban New Yorker, Chang had little to do with traditional Chinese craft until she discovered that the hand-woven fabrics of the Chinese Miao and Dong minorities were on the verge of disappearing, and rushed to preserve the craft through her collections.

在结识 Vega 的这段时间让我开始思考中国的传统制衣,于是我开始大范围地寻找能把传统工艺结合到设计当中的设计师。Angel Chang,一颗设计界的新星,以自加热里衬和可变颜色的印花设计一举夺得 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award 和 Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 两项时尚界设计奖项。生在纽约的 Angel Chang 以前对中国传统工艺知道的并不是很多,直到她发现苗族和侗族的传统手工织布并得知这种工艺即将失传时,她毅然决定以结合这种工艺到自己的成衣系列的方式,来保存并发扬这项手工艺.

Arriving in China’s Guizhou province in 2009, Chang began to work closely with the weavers and embroiderers of several local mountain villages, producing entirely hand-woven and hand-embroidered traditional fabrics. The entire process, from cotton planting to fabric dying, used no electricity and no artificial elements – the fabric was dyed using native wild plants. “For my collections, I use natural plant dyes foraged from the surrounding mountain forests or grown on a farm land. These plants must be picked fresh and used immediately. This means that we can only collect and process them when they are available in nature – a pale yellow flower in May, black tree bark in August. My production calendar is consequently scheduled around those seasonal limitations”.

2009 年 Chang 来到中国贵州省,与当地山村里的织工和绣工一起,开始制作全手工织绣布料。整个过程,从棉花种植到织物染色,没有用到任何电力,也没有添加任何人工染料,所有的布料全部都是采用当地的野生植物进行染色。“我的系列使用的是天然植物染料,这些植物生长在周围的山里或农场里。在使用时,必须立即采摘,然后马上使用。这就意味着,特定的染料只有在特定的时期才能获得,例如,淡黄色的小花是在五月,黑色树皮是在八月。因此,我的生产制作周期也是按照季节安排的”。

Over the following four years, Chang learned to live among the local communities following the cycles of nature and being entirely off-the-grid, producing an almost zero carbon footprint collection. A triumph for traditional craft preservation efforts, Chang successfully collaborates with local craftsmen on producing the one-of-a-kind fabrics that normally don’t make it out of a family household. Traditionally, such textiles and embroidery are used to preserve some of the history of the minorities who never used a written language to document their story. Each piece takes up to two years to complete and is worn for an average of 20 years before being handed down to children and grandchildren as heirlooms.

在接下来的四年里,Chang 远离城市喧嚣来到乡村,跟着当地人学着如何遵循自然时节生产几乎零碳足迹的成衣系列。在 Chang 的努力下,当地的传统工艺得到了保存和传承,她成功地与当地的工匠合作,制作出独一无二的织物。当地的少数民族不是通过书写而是通过手工制作的绣花织物来记录保存他们的历史的。根据当地的传统,这种织物和绣花其实是不外传的。每一件作品要花两年左右的时间来完成,人们会小心爱护地穿着这些服装长达 20 年,然后才会传给下一代。

[A 2015 look, directed by Jonathon Lim, at Chang and her quest for handwoven sustainability — courtesy of the Atelier Chang YouTube Channel]

Chang travelled from village to village looking for those who still had the knowledge of such traditional embroidery. Today, an embroider of that kind takes up to one month to complete one piece for Chang’s atelier. “Each collection focuses on one type of embroidery or fabric-weaving technique that inspires me. Because each technique is unique to each village, I travel into that specific village, work directly with the locals, and learn the folklore and stories behind their methods.”

Chang 挨村挨户地寻找那些掌握这种传统绣花工艺的人。如今,在 Chang 的工作室里,制作这样一件绣花作品往往需要一个月的时间才能完成。“我的每一个系列都会着重于特定一种给予我灵感的绣花或织布工艺。对每一个村子来说他们都有自己独特的工艺,我从一个村子辗转到另一个村子,跟当地的工匠一起工作,向他们学习手艺,听他们讲这些民俗背后的故事。

Creating the Urban Tribe book was a journey that helped preserve the traditional craft and promote it to their urban customers. 对于我们城市山民来说,这本书的出版是为了帮助传承传统手工艺,将传统工艺介绍给更多的城市买家,同时鼓励手艺人将传统制衣的工艺传承下去.

Another fantastic company who has a hand in preservation of traditional Chinese clothing making techniques is the Shanghai-based Urban Tribe. The founders describe themselves as a “fusion of clothes, jewelry, ceramics and tea”. Focusing on traditional materials and production, Urban Tribe creates timeless designs rooted in Chinese traditional design and culture while their main customer base are young urban Chinese. In 2013, Urban Tribe published the book titled “Needlework Interview: With Miao Mother and Daughter”. Calling it their biggest achievement to date, the brand’s founders travelled to several Miao villages in the Guizhou region and asked mother-daughter teams to collaborate on producing a traditional piece of clothing for the book. “Urban Tribe provided them with the materials and covered production costs…We conducted field interviews and filmed the entire process, made photo albums for charity and donated all the money raised to the mother-daughter teams”.

另一个参与保存中国传统服装制作工艺的品牌是 上海的城市山民(Urban Tribe)。 用创始人的话说,城市山民是“一家集衣、陶、茶、饰的综合店铺”。注重传统材料的使用和制作,根植于中国传统文化,城市山民的永久性设计受到了很多中国都市青年的青睐。在 2013 年,城市山民出版了一本名为《女红在不在(传承女红:苗家母女共制苗衣活动)》的图书。创始人称此书为城市山民迄今为止所取得的最大成就,城市山民的创始人拜访了贵州省的几个苗族村庄,并邀请当地的母女组成团队共同制作苗族传统服装。“城市山民为她们提供材料并支付制作成本。我们实地采访和录制了整个制作过程,同时还制作了相册,通过举办慈善活动将获得的捐款全部捐赠给苗家母女们”。


Alina Raetsep: An Allegory Of Artisanal Swag
Alina Raetsep: An Allegory Of Artisanal Swag
Urban Tribe New Arrival: Silk Dress 2017.


For the Tribe, the making of the book was the journey that helped to preserve the traditional craft, promote it to their urban customers and encourage those with the knowledge of making such garments to pass the skill on to the next generation. “Urban Tribe people come from the accumulated over thousands of years wisdom of nature and beauty. We neither should forget not dare to forget. Within the products of Urban Tribe we hope to integrate such kind of wisdom and beauty.”


We end this passionate Raetsep disclosure with a quote from Chang — in reference to the mad artisanal skills she found in Guizhou Province:

“It doesn’t matter if they spend two weeks on a sleeve or two years on a jacket. These clothes will be worn for a lifetime.”

That’s a truly passionate work of love, for life.

为了结束这篇热烈的披露,我们而引用 Chang–在贵州省出行时–的话:“如果他们花两个星期的时间或在两三年的时间里穿上一件夹克,这些衣服一生都会磨损,时间并不重要。” 这是为了生命真正热爱的工作。







Featured Image: Copyright @Vega Zaishi Wang, 2017.
Written by SIX Magazine’s Alina Raetsep for Temper Magazine.
Edited by Elsbeth van Paridon.
Chinese translation by Li “Lily” Dan of Kitayama Studio.
Copyright @Temper Magazine 2017 All rights reserved


Syndicated from Temper Magazine

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