About special encounters and special techniques: The Soulié Yoga Mat Sling
Posted on 31 October 2016
The hand appliquéd ribbon yoga mat slings are our favourite Soulié pieces. They're a fusion of colours and sparkles, of modern chic and traditional techniques. Their aesthetics are stunning but so is the story behind them. We tell you why the mat slings would have never made it to this world without Kathryn Budig, a renowned yoga teacher and author, and what production steps they undergo before they accompany you to your next yoga class.
It all started in 2014, when Soulié founder Renée Lamb attended the Yoga Journal Conference in NYC and met Kathryn Budig after a yoga class. Renée was carrying a prototype for a yoga bag with her and made Kathryn fall in love with it right away. Their conversation drifted from yoga teaching, yoga bags and yoga slings to the universe and how it had dropped Renée into Kathryn’s class in order for them to develop something beautiful together. And they sure did!
Renée came home from the trip and immediately started playing around with designs and prototypes. The outline for the Hand Appliquéd Ribbon Yoga Mat Sling was born. One month later Soulié’s artisan partners worked their magic and sent a to-die-for prototype.
While the design for the slings was made in the US, the production including the colour and finishing work is done by a partner NGO working with artisan communities in Gujarat, India. This NGO has spent more than 25 years preserving centuries’ old craft techniques, providing valuable local jobs and design training and offering museum quality conservation for local antique textiles.
The production can be looked at in two stages:
First of all, locally sourced cotton is printed using traditional block printing techniques and cut into the right shape. This makes for the base of the strap.
In the second stage the straps get colourful. A rare appliquéd ribbon technique is used, where locally sourced ribbons are stitched and overlaid onto the cotton backing by a group of 5 to 7 tailors, both men and women. This technique was designed by a group of ingenious female artisans working with Soulié’s partner NGO. At some point the women in the community were told by the men of the tribe that they could no longer embroider as the task was taking too much attention away from their other household obligations. Consequently they began to decorate their clothing with pre-made ribbons bought at the local market. When the women took this idea and adapted it to bags, it created a whole new texture and aesthetic.
What makes this crafts technique so special is that even though it is relatively new, it shows the adaptability and resilient spirit of the women in the area. The ingenuity was so powerful and inspiring that Renée had to make sure it made its way onto her beautiful handmade pieces.
All in all it takes three independent artisans a total of 3 to 4 hours to create one sling. Half a day of love and passion stitched into your new yoga accessory!
© All photos via Soulié