REVITALIZING WEAVING AS A LOST CRAFT
COVER ART: JULIANNA LUKACS
Let’s take a step back to the fundamentals — fashion is not limited to the clothing we wear on our bodies, but stems from the cloth that generates our favorite jackets, sweatshirts and pants. Fabric holds the core essence of any outfit, and not only do these fabrics dress people, but they also outfit our homes, cultivating spaces that reflect our own values and personal aesthetic. Labeled as Architectural Digest’s recent One To Watch, textile designer and entrepreneur, Esha Ahmed, launched her own fabrics company called Makrosha in New York City last January. Ahmed, born in Bangladesh but raised in Queens, New York, is not like many; she established her business by handcrafting her luxurious fabrics through ancient weaving techniques.
Ahmed asserts, “there’s only a handful of people in the world who can do high-end hand weaving. My goal is to prevent that craft from vanishing.” Ahmed is trained in a plethora of complex weaving methods that are crafted into intricate designs for rugs, pillows, couches and art. Her company, uniquely labeled Makrosha, was titled after the Bangla word for spider which Ahmed personally identifies with, as spiders are the innate weavers of the natural world. Each textile that Ahmed markets is paired with an original catchy title, bringing her pieces to life. For example, take her fabric called Manic Panic: Ahmed describes it as “featuring every color in the rainbow albeit a bit more tastefully,” a perfect amalgamation of pungent-pop-neon hues, and shimmery golden threads dashed throughout the textile, exuding a fun, quirky, and eccentric energy. Other titles of her fabrics include Raspberry parade, a scrumptious rouge to gold ombre palette, and the deluxe Cotton Velvet Leaf.
Ahmed graduated from FIT, specializing in textile history, conservation and fashion. After graduating, she worked for a number of venerable Fashion and Interior Design houses, such as Alexander Wang and prestigious architecture firm, Peter Marino Architect. These experiences and authentic intrigue, with regards to native cultures’ technical crafts, bolstered her network and paved the way for Makrosha to actualize.
Living in the 21st century, where most items are accessible to us at the touch of a button, it is unusual to find someone who truly honors the artistic value of hand weaving and embroidery. Ahmed intentionally jumped into the textile world as a way to engage in design while steering away from the fast fashion world. She developed a niche network of talented artisans who currently live all over the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe. More specifically this includes Laos, Nepal, France and even master weaver Aissa Dione of Senegal. Ahmed not only collaborates with many of these artists, but her business model offers them opportunities to earn fair wages and a platform to sell their brilliant ornate fabrics. Each weaver brings their own ancestral weaving skills to their pieces, resulting in historically significant and uniquely individual designs. As these fabrics are turned into items of our homes, Ahmed strategically sees them enduring longer lives as they are passed down through generations, becoming family talismans. Makrosha’s unique commodities satisfy a more competitive advantage and worthwhile purchase, increasing buyers’ WTP. In this regard, Makrosha contributes to long term sustainability, something that has fallen short in much of the fashion world as of late, particularly as fast-fashion’s deceitful convenience continues to rise at unparalleled rates.
Take it from someone who has been lucky enough to live in several indigenous tribes, in Tibet, Inner Mongolia and rural regions of western China. My appreciation for those who endure lives in non industrial traditions, dedicated to their customs and maintaining the spirit of their ancestral lifestyle is beyond admirable and truly valuable. Maybe we all need a little courage like Ms. Ahmed to return to ways of past lifetimes and connect with our roots.