I love creating designs and curating collections for Laloom, but like with anything that one has a passion for - to create something amazing you've got to put in the time and effort in details that aren't always at the forefront. It's not all glamour, fashion and photo shoots - there's a lot of involvement before even getting to that point. Many of my friends and customers ask me about my travels for Laloom and where pursuing top quality has taken me. In this week's blog post I want to share with you a glimpse into my latest sourcing trip for Laloom.
My latest trip takes me to India, visiting namely Mumbai and New Delhi with a few stops in between. Was it a glitzy and relaxing holiday? Not exactly, I do recall a level of constant exhaustion without a doubt. Was it exciting? Absolutely! Discovering new fabrics, dealing with new suppliers and being immersed in a different country for just a few days. Travelling alone isn't always 'fun', you can miss having a companion to laugh with about the absurdities you've encoutered...someone who you can muse with about a collection of fabrics - which one did they think was the most gorgeous?...but mostly you can miss companionship when they confirm it's not just you feeling the effects of your laborious travels, 'you're in this together!'. But I digress, I love travelling and for trips like this, I'm on a mission!
It's a relief when I finally take my seat on the plane. You know how it is, even going for just a few days, there's so much preparation and things to sort out at home before you can actually go on your trip. Sitting in my assigned seat, I can breathe a sigh of relief, the family are prepared to take care of themselves and the business can handle itself while I am away. The trip to India was off to a great start, travelling via Singapore, I was able to sit back, relax and enjoy some movies from a wide variety of choices. All I needed was some popcorn and a choc top and I maybe wouldn't have minded staying longer on board. Travelling via Singapore allows for a pleasant break between flights to stretch your legs and refresh. I'd recommend anyone to watch the movies I watched, they were all lovely and engaging stories, The New Girlfriend (a French film); The Theory of Everything (based on the life of Stephen Hawkings); and Into the Wild (starring Reese Witherspoon - spectacular scenery, and I can relate to such a theme the movie encounters wherein the protagonist's throw themselves into the unknown, determined to achieve their goal...a bit like going into small business and manufacturing in a foreign country!)
Having been to India before, it's still a new experience for me as I land in Mumbai, rather than New Dehli as I have before. I start here as I plan to discover new ventures with a new supplier based here. It should be pretty hot and humid like previous times, and I am not disappointed - arriving I am hit with an onslaught of hot wet humidity as i make my way out of the bustling airport terminal at 10.30pm (and a toasty 35 degrees!). I am met by my contact, who I instantly find an easy rapport with; he is a ball of enthusiasm and energy, so I am looking forward to the days ahead to see what he has in store for us. But first things first, it's time for me to get to my hotel, have a nice shower and hit the hay.
I am met by my contact early the next day, he plans for us to travel 4 - 5 hours by van to visit a few different digital printers and designers to select new prints for kaftans. This is where the real excitement begins! For the first time I am ordering prints printed specifically just for Laloom. The first run of prints will be a small selection, once I receive feedback from my customer base I plan to increase my range, so this time I select from a catalogue of prints, making changes to the design to tailor it for the Australian market. I am so happy with my selections, the prints are bright and colourful, they will be embellished with crystals and will provide a totally new look for Laloom. The fabrics I have selected are also stunning. Some made of a beautiful viscose crepe, which is cool to wear, semi-sheer and drapes beautifully. I've also selected some beautiful polyester satin, which the Laloom customers have always loved as it is cool and does not require a slip. These Designer kaftans will be available towards the end of August.
Time flies when you're engrossed in a task like this - who knows just how many prints and fabrics I sorted through at three different designers over 6 hours? Little did I comprehend how long this day would be (even if past experiences in India have taught me to always expect the unexpected). After 6 hours of searching, battling jet lag, not eating and having to drink just to keep alert (while also fearing going to the bathroom - not exactly the most pleasant experience in the backstreets of India) then followed by a 5 hour road trip back to Mumbai I am proud to say I made it, as I fall into bed at about 3am.
I stayed at a beach resort, a quiet and peaceful place with beautiful tropical gardens - unfortunately as I mentioned I was on a mission this trip so I wasn't able to enjoy the surroundings. However, it was super convenient - located only 40mins away from one of my suppliers' offices.
The next couple of days, weaving through traffic, I make a couple of short stops to the factory I work with, checking out working conditions, equipment etc. and also to the office where I can fine tune designs, sort out production programs and so on.
I feel I have accomplished a lot, but the journey doesn't stop here. I continue on to New Dehli, catching an early 5am flight, ready to source fabrics from my regular supplier. Like in Mumbai, I source a wide range of prints - some Moroccan inspired, peacock, animal and floral prints. The fabrics are silk crepe (just amazing), silk chiffon, poly chiffon and poly satin. Definitely, something for everyone and I am introducing a new Kaftan style which is sized, for my customers who want a kaftan, but a little more fitted.
On the last leg of my journey, I stop in Jaipur, Rajasthan. A visit in May guaranteed a very warm arrival - literally! Expect nothing less than 42 degrees, with the temperature rising to a super toasty 45 degrees or more. However, I do call myself lucky as I was able to leave just a week before the hottest ever recorded temperatures in Indian history! I was able to fit in a visit to one of my most trusted suppliers, check out how their family was going, see how the tailors and master pattern maker were faring and was able to conclude that all was well and ready to commence my production!