NOTE: To get the full story, we encourage you to listen to the episode. The following episode notes serve as a guide, explaining what we cover in each section. Fast forward to hear more about specific topics and sections.
Introducing XTANT and Kavita Parmar
You may have listened to our podcast back in September when Kavita joined us to talk about her pioneering brand—IOU Project. The IOU Project is a new way to approach design, production, the buying and selling of clothes. We talked about what she learned working in big fashion. The power of technology. Her collaboration with weavers in Madras. And, her allegiance to Gandhi’s invocation “be the change you wish to see in the world”.
In February 2020, Kavita and her friend and marketing & branding expert Marcella Echavarria launched TEXTO, a gathering of artisans and designers in Mexico City. TEXTO was happening right as Wuhan was going into its first lockdown. By the time we spoke to Kavita on Radio Ock Pop Tok, in September of 2020, the pandemic was raging across the world.
We felt put on a pedestal with an honorary spotlight
Now, in April 2021, Covid continues to flummox, fatigue and kill. But, Kavita has used the time to gather her thoughts and organise XTANT, a follow-up to TEXTO. The purpose of XTANT is to reflect on our current situation, to dream and actualize positive solutions.
Jo attended TEXTO on behalf of Ock Pop Tok. It was a powerful moment for Jo – who in her own right is a trailblazer. So, I’m excited to hear what these two women have to say about artisans, heritage, luxury, the human condition .. and anything else they want to dissect.
At TEXTO, Jo Finds Inspiration
I met Kavita back in February 2020 at TEXTO in Mexico City. The event brought 45 artisan groups from 23 countries together in the volcanic grounds of a stunning house designed by modernist architect Louis Barragan. There were presentations, and discussions, workshops and even performances by singers. We were also there to sell, it was a market place too. But what I remember most is the sense that the world between artisan crafts person and first world consumer had been bridged in an genuine and non patronizing way.
As artisans, and, myself an artisan representative, we felt put on a pedestal with an honorary spotlight. It wasn’t focused on ego and personalities.
It was about cultures, traditions, storytelling and creating an appreciation and value of an artisans knowledge, skill and what they represented as an ambassador of all of that.
The platform to meet the audience was integrated at every level and there were private events just for the artisans themselves. We had the privilege of hearing key-note speakers such as Senator Susana Harp Iturribarria announce that a new legislation had been passed to protect Mexican artisans from people copying their traditional designs.
Artisan made textiles are rooted in stories.
We talk alot about heroes, pioneers and so on on our podcast, and I can say that Kavita is truly an artisan hero. She co-created an event that was so refreshing to be a part of. She brought the artisan world into the attention of the luxury consumer and so launched her belief that heritage is the new luxury. So, without further ado let’s welcome Kavita back to Radio Ock Pop Tok.
XTANT: The backstory
So XTANT. Texto. These gatherings. Let’s put it all into context.
As Kavita mentions, artisan made textiles are rooted in stories. It’s difficult to value them ideologically and economically unless you understand the stories and utility of the pieces. So, how does one fix that gap in knowledge and understanding? These concerns began to press upon Kavita, in the early 2000s while she was working with major international brands in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Around 2010, she left all of it to start her own artisan made collection called the IOU Project. The brand recalibrates the value of handmade textiles in the supply chain.
Around this time, she met Marcella. A photojournalist who has an impressive resume of creative and educational projects, Marcella runs a consulting company on sustainable luxury. Kavita and Marcella realised that they shared the same concerns. Storytelling, connection, transparency, community, durability – sustainability – these were all elements of IOU, and Kavita and Marcella wanted to create dialogue around these issues and to impact real, positive change.
Their goals include encouraging collaboration and emphasizing that artisan works are on par with luxury. What is the best way to bring about dialogue and change? The idea of having gatherings where people can talk face to face – came up.
One that put these issues and goals front and center. This is how TEXTO came together in Mexico City in early 2020. And, now, it’s time for another gathering. Let’s hear Kavita tell about her first meeting and ongoing collaboration with Marcella.
A Dynamic Event in Mallorca
XTANT is a 5 day event scheduled for 21-25 June of 2021.
So what can we expect at the event? The event will feature artisans around the world.
Designers and buyers from the fashion world are also expected to attend. And, of course, the event is open to the public.
XTANT will be held live in Mallorca, and there will be a virtual component for those who cannot travel. Slated are a “Meet the Maker” crafts market, roundtables and discussions on sustainability, new luxury, heritage textiles; workshops by renowned master artisans in natural dyes, regenerative agriculture, craft and brand partnerships; a podcast; and, “Slow TV” visual stories that will cover what is happening in rural life.
XTANT: The Great Pause
XTANT is grounded in two themes. The first one is the Great Pause. The pandemic, Kavita tells us, has provided an opportunity to stop and reconsider our priorities. The second one is something Albert Einstein said: “Everyone has two options. We are either full of love or full of fear.” Kavita explains the reasons behind these themes.