#VocalForLocal: De Castro's Ikat Designs: Behind the Craft

Le Mill has a chat with Virginia De Castro, founder of De Castro on what drew her to Ikat and what the journey of the a De Castro dress looks like.

What is Ikat and what drew you to the craft?

I find Ikat fascinating! It is a yam-dyed fabric where the yams, selectively resist dying. Once its woven, a pattern emerges. A warp or weft is used to weave in a pattern. When both warp and weft are tie-dyed, then, we call it double Ikat. We use double Ikat for most of our fabrics, this technique is one of the most famous in India.

India is famous around the world for the textiles and the different tips of craft than can be created with them. When I came for the first time I did a long research of different techniques.  

The Ikat was one of my favourite because allowed me to give a interesting twist to make it more modern. This is the challenge new designers like me are facing now, how to use the legacy of a country to maintain things alive and timeless.  

Apart from that we fell in love with the process, and the idea of supporting handmade fabrics. It is incredible to believe we can still create this pieces of art and wear them as our second skin.  

I also love the finish of the Ikat, the small imperfections that make it unique.   


What’s the story behind your designs? 

De Castro is the fusion of two countries, and our fabrics reflect that as well. 

The brand gets inspiration from traditional Ikat designs. After we find an inspiring design, we give it a electrical twist  to the basic design, using of color, contrast and additional elements.

For example, in the hat, we see a mix of animal diversity. If you see the look closely you will find the shaped of a monkey, a common animal in the fauna of both countries. Mixed with geometry and color. 

This are some of the elements we love to mix,  nature,  fauna, geometry color and elements taken from Indian architecture. 


Where do you source your materials and what are the steps the raw material goes through before we get the finalized product? 

  1.  All our Raw materials are sourced from Tamil Nadu, the cotton yarn is processed (warping) in homes by men /women in Telangana villages. 
  2. After warping the yarn a master will sketch the designs on the processed warp. 
  3. Sketched patterns will tied and then dyed by artisans. 
  4. After dyeing all the tied rubbers are removed and making into individual finished warps. 
  5.  Finally the warps are ready to weave using a handloom.  
  6.  Weaved textiles are sent to makers

The weavers are traditional families that have been doing this job for many generations, now they love to work in our designs, but we like to source artisans from different areas of the country  to have a big range of styles, this is how you learn new techniques.

When you support local brands at Le Mill, you’re also supporting local artisans and age-old crafts.