Written by Lyn Slater @iconaccidental
The foundation of milo work builds on the concepts of: create, collaborate and support.
This is the first in a series of interviews that will explore how these values become realized through a collaborative approach to the design and production of capsule collections. As these collections and partnerships come to life, they elaborate on Milo’s mission of advancing craftsmanship, sustainability, and technology. We hope these interviews inspire you, that you will reach out to others and together create, collaborate and support!
This new collection under Blinded by Color Project, is Milo’s first move away from the darker monotone colors that the brand has been known for. For the summer Milo has jumped into joyful experimentation with color and print. Mireia has found the perfect partner to play with the artist Petra Valentova and the women at Studio Bagru that the artist works within India. See how they made it all happen as they discuss their collaboration
Could you tell us how the two of you met and why you decided to have a collaboration?
We meet through a mutual friend from Sprout Enterprise® at a time when I realized that the big abstract print concepts were a bit too challenging for traditional block printing methods. Petra and I clicked immediately, as we shared the ethos of honoring the makers and their craftsmanship through the process.
Meeting Mireia was that perfect connection in time and space. I just came back from India. After a very intense summer, I started to look for another collaborative project back in NYC. I work directly with artisans in the Jaipur area in Rajasthan, and it is essential for me to work on this side of the ocean with designers who share my appreciation and respect for the craft.
Once the decision was made to collaborate can you tell us about the design process you went through and how you each contributed throughout the process?
We looked at blocks tools that were already created by Petra and Studio Bagru. We re-designed the print artwork and print positions in a way that each garment would be unique and different from the other. Petra was vital in facilitating the specification of the print artwork for the artisans. Meanwhile, I concentrated on the garment construction and specs for the makers.
I have been block printing myself for several years now, so I have a pretty detailed understanding of the process. I rarely work with simple repetitive design; I prefer for each pattern to “imprint” on the surface in a dynamic, evolving way. It was visible right at the beginning that for Mireia’s aesthetic my simple, pixelated or linear patterns will work the best. I prepared sketches, then send them to her, she gave me her comments, I made changes, etc. – back and forth a few times. Then I created sketches and send them to the printers in Bagru. The collaboration now includes the printers. We don’t want the printers to follow our design to the last line or print – we want them to be creative and up to a certain point also experimental.
Clearly, you are both big supporters of women. How has this collaboration supported each of you in achieving the goals of your brand?
Through our collaborative business model, we work with like-minded creators like Petra through "guerrilla projects" that work within the parameters of craftsmanship, sustainability, and technology. Our mission is to foster a culture of unity and collective values through our collections.
Women printers were and are an un-separable part of the printing community in the village of Bagru. However, the small, home-based workshops are slowly disappearing and are being replaced by larger printing factories. Women printers don’t work in these new factories; thus it is essential for me to work with the women in the environment where they have felt safe and comfortable. I believe that the designing process should return to the women printing communities. I am working with 11 women / Chhipa printers, and we draw, experiment and print together. We are now in process of creating one pattern for each printer so she can get royalties from her creative work, not just the printing process. The group is fantastic and I am very proud of them. They so honestly and eagerly filled their sketchbooks this spring. It was really touching.
How does this collaboration support other women beyond the two of you?
We work together to create garments that are responsibly made by hand and are designed to be unique and one of a kind. The Blinded By Color Project is the start of many collaborations that will support artisan communities and their families by giving them the voice, respect, and remuneration they deserve.
Right now it supports the printers by employing them, but as this project continues and grows we would also like to start implementing some of their designs which will lead to extra income (and pride) through royalties
Finally, what is the emotion you would like to convey to the wearers of these garments?
A sense of Freedom, Community, and Uniqueness. Through the collaborative process of designers, printers, and makers each garment is unique, and as individual as the persons who will be attracted to and purchase the collection. We want our customers to feel proud of who made their clothes.
Awareness, appreciation for traditional craft and artisanal work. Block printing is a very versatile and rich technique with enormous potential. I feel everybody needs to get educated – the printers so they can be more open-minded about printing styles, designers who should return to the community not only by employing the printers but also by empowering them through collaborative projects and the customers, so they make the right buying choices.
Any advice for others who wish to collaborate?
Leave the egos at the door and enter the house with an open mind and the common goal to be part of a fearless community of creatives that are building a more supportive, sustainable and inclusive world.
I agree with Mireia on this to the dot!