SZ Blockprints - A closer look

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Kitty Rae and grand-daughter sitting outside smiling at each other

A closer look at the brands beginnings and heritage involves taking you back to Jaipur in the early 1960's. Now lovingly known as 'The Godmother of Block Print', Kitty Rae began her craft in a small studio space in the city with little knowledge of the journey she was about to embark on. Within 10 years, her small textile business had reached the dizzy heights of 70's Bohemia, becoming one of the most sought after styles in what was fast becoming an iconic destination for the global elite and the hippy movement. By the mid 70's, Kittys designs were being worn by fashionistas and royalty alike, with her designs hitting the shores of the west and beyond. A reputation for generosity and passion, Kitty Rae is widely acknowledged as a leader in her field, elevating the craft to a global audience which is still being used today.


Wooden block prints used for the hand block print technique

The  tecnique which is done by hand by local artisan crafters involves carving and shaping blocks of wood which is then printed onto delicate Indian cotton. The process takes time and patience, allowing each and every garment to have it's own individual story. Fitting together like a puzzle, the block to block allignment is paramount to the art and guarantees a small batch production.

The block are prepared by the artisan crafters, cleaning and thinning the dye evenly to ensure there is no misallignment and no dye waste. Each block has been hand carved by printmasters, who will use at least 3 different blocks on each pattern - and each patter has at least ten colours.

The colour used in each pattern is determined by a 'colour master', who stores all his ideas in his mind - ready to mix the next day from scratch using non toxic dyes. Each mix is done by hand in large buckets; no tech, no database. To test the colour, the artist will use his finger on a small piece of cloth that is left to dry in the sun.

Once the dye and block printing process has been complete, the large pieces of fabric are left to dry naturally in the hot sun; allowing the dye to find its natural position and richness. The fabric will then be ready for its final production process which itself involves many more finishes which involves cutting, tailoring, lining, quilting, tasseling and labeling. Each and everyone of these processes is done by hand and QC checked before it leaves the warehouse.

Blue hand block printed fabric drying in the sun

SZ Blockprint have a real desire to ensure their business stays true to it's core, it's ethos and the craft that has allowed it to become a succesful global brand. They champion the communities that they work with by providing long-term employment to over 120 skilled artisan workers and ensuring their work space is safe and their pair is fair. The warehouse is run by Kitty Rae's daughter-in-law and great grand-daughter who beleive their emotional connection to the community and thier workers is unique and a cultural uniquness to India itself.

A collage of images showing artisan SZ blockprint workers and fabric drying in the sun of Jaipur.

Sarah and her team envisage the continuation and evolution of the artisan craft, just as Kitty did. Each collection pays homage to her legacy and they strive to make the art of hand block printing viable and profitable for the crafters.

You can explore the SS23 Resort Collection here.








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