Here at Freya Branwyn, we love sourcing unique products that come with a story, so that not only can we support other communities but so that we can bring our customers truly unique, handcrafted products that have been sourced ethically and sustainably.
It’s incredibly exciting for us to share with you our travels around the world and where the products originate from, as we are well aware not everyone gets to experience first-hand some of these stunning areas of the world.
In this diary, we wanted to introduce the new Banjara bags that we purchased from India.
Deciding on India
As bohemians ourselves, we are well aware that Indian culture has always had an influence on the boho trends that you see today. After all, the bohemian lifestyle is about celebrating cultures and their rich history.
When you think of boho style, you probably imagine long hair, free-flowing clothes, vibrant colour and layered jewelry. And much of this stems from our early introduction to Indian culture.
When bohemians started travelling from Europe to India many of them brought home bold Indian fabrics that featured strong, and often intricate prints, along with dyes and jewelry. India was truly a treasure trove for those wanting to explore a new way of dressing.
The inspiration from India has continued to flow throughout the centuries. In 1968, fashion designer Gerolamo Gimmo Etro created a luxury fashion brand inspired by a trip to India. And even today, designers such as Isabel Marant have used embroidery and paisley prints found in India to inspire their runway collections.
So you could say, that to us, India is somewhat of a bohemians Mecca when it comes to style inspiration. Which is exactly why we decided to take a trip and explore the markets to see what we could discover and add to our Freya Branwyn collection.
Exploring the markets
When we arrived in India, aside from the scorching heat and intense aromas that hit you as soon as you get off the plane, we couldn’t believe what a vibrant place we had come to.
India is a hive of activity, and it took us a while to get used to the noise and the overwhelming amount of people.
Before we left, we had already done a little research into the markets and areas we wanted to visit that were well-known for their fabrics and handmade products.
We searched many of the popular markets in India, including Sarojini Nagar, Johari Bazaar, and the Ima Market. And aside from shopping until we dropped, we also felt spoilt for choice in the items that we could source.
Each market had something unique that had us in awe, but we hadn’t found that one place where we knew in our hearts that we wanted to bring it onboard for our customers. Perhaps we had given ourselves too much choice?
We decided to ask our local tour guide who had helped us navigate the markets, where he would suggest for us to find a community creating something by hand. Are there any women crafting something we need to know about?
And that’s when he suggested we visit the Banjara community.
The Banjara Tribe
The Banjara is a nomadic community that live in northwestern India. Their name derives from the Sanskrit word vana chara, which mean wanderers in jungle. So we knew instantly, that these would be our type of people.
Upon visiting the tribe we were instantly amazed at their beautifully handcrafted goods, with the women all sat around hand embroidering items and talking in their native tongue.
There was something so mesmerising watching them work, that we knew instantly that this is what we had come to India to find. To support tribal women in rural Indian villages.
As the Banjara are a community made up of many nomadic tribes, each woman had their own way of embroidering or sewing. For example, the Lambani women specialise in ‘Lepo’ which involves embroidering pieces of mirror, decorative beads, and coins onto items.
Introducing the Banjara bags
Once we knew that the women were happy for us to purchase their goods we then had the tough task of deciding exactly what we were going to choose. After all, when you’re faced with an array of stunning handmade, completely unique items, it feels as though you’ve entered into an Aladdin's cave.
Each of the bags is handmade from recycled tribal fabrics, often made from old wedding dresses, which we feel gives them a real authenticity. The bags are then embroidered by the women in their own technique with vibrant stitching that just shouts of the bold colours you can find in India.
Aside from the decadent charms that have been sewn onto the bags in the Lepo style, we’ve fallen in love with the detail and colour that is stitched onto all of the bags. The patterns and shapes are mesmerising.
While the craftsmanship is something to truly respect, we’re above all thrilled that no two bags are the same. Due to the way they are made and crafted by each individual woman in the tribe, there are no replicas.
Detail from the Lambani Bag
For us, this is something we’re so happy to be able to bring to you, as not only does this evoke the true philosophy of the bohemian lifestyle, by creating individuality, but it also celebrates the rich Indian culture.
Sourcing these bags was a real trip of a lifetime for us, but we know we’ll be back because there is an array of unique items to be found in this part of the world.
We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about our trip, and we hope even more that you’ll adore the unique Banjara bags as much as we do.
Alexandra & Sara
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