January 10, 2018
Behind The Print: Wayfare Inspiration
We’re into living a colourful life at TAMGA. That means bringing together travel, freedom, and creativity to bring lasting positive relationships between people and the planet. Our prints are the visual representation of this lifestyle, designed for colourful sprits who don’t mind standing out for the right reasons.
Every TAMGA collection begins on the road, in places where the people, environments and traditions are never black and white. At the end of 2016, the TAMGA team (Eric, Anna and myself) needed a break from the hard work of finding sustainable suppliers in Indonesia, so we hopped on a flight to Northern Vietnam for a couple of weeks to find some inspiration in the hills near the Chinese border. Here, hill tribes create world famous textiles in traditions that have thrived and evolved over centuries. We weren’t disappointed.
We spent about a week in Northern Vietnam in Sa Pa, a popular trekking base that overlooks terraced rice fields and is the home to 8 ethnic groups commonly referred to as ‘hill tribes.’ We stayed in a unique little hostel which is run by a local Hmong family outside the tourist part of town. During our stay, we got to partake in an incredible natural dye and weaving workshop, visited popular local markets and hill tribe communities, and enjoyed many delicious traditional meals.
When in Sa Pa, it’s hard not to take note of the traditional textiles and handmade clothing. Although the tribes have different ways of dressing, they all have unique elements of geometrical and floral shapes one way or another. What we loved most about the traditional attire is the burst of color and attention to detail in the garments. We made sure to photograph all the things that we loved in Sa Pa, which we ended up using as inspiration for the Wayfare collection, much in the same way that Indonesia’s ikat and batik methods inspired our Dreamweaver prints.
Our prints come to life through a loosely structured creative process. After lots of brain-storming, mood boarding and concept development, we share all the materials and photos with our super-talented print designer Susanna and she runs with it! Suzi first comes up with an initial design by hand-drawing it and eventually replicating it digitally. There’s a lot of back and forth during the design period which means it can take a few weeks to finalize each print.
TAMGA prints are a repetitive pattern, meaning the print needs to be seamless and strategically designed to fit the fabric. Once the design has been developed, we put the file in Photoshop and come up with different color combinations for the print. We also paste the different print options on the new mock-up styles to get an idea of how it would potentially look. Once we select the color combinations, we send them off with the exact pantone numbers to our printing house in Indonesia. After a few weeks we receive the ‘strike-offs’ (known as sample prints) on our sustainable Micro TENCEL® fabric by mail and either fall in love with a swatch and move ahead with it, or ask our printing house to modify any colors for a second strike-off.
Once a print has been approved by us, we go into production! The printing inks that we use at TAMGA are all fibre-reactive, meaning they bond with the fabric rather than just being washed on to them. The resulting colour is so deep and vibrant that it always surprises us, and shows that sometimes the best materials for the job are naturally eco-friendly. These inks are certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) to be free of harmful chemicals, and use 70 per cent less water than conventional synthetic dyes. From sketch to final product, the journey of a TAMGA print is long with endless attention to detail, and most of all, made with love for colour, people, and the planet.