|Exclusively for Our Customers:
Orvis Handcrafted Reversible Jackets
The story of our exclusive block-printed jackets began more than twenty years ago, when Orvis Women’s Product Development Specialist Sharon McNamara traveled to Jaipur, India in search of British-inspired block-printed fabrics. The artistry and skill of the regional craftspeople there lead to the creation of our most popular women’s jackets of all time.
Sharon recently shared her memories of that:
“In those days, elephants, camels, and burros were used to transport the fabric to the remote villages of the Jaipur region. I was the only western visitor in the village at that time, and I met with the country’s premier block printer. He worked in a room that was covered from floor to ceiling with boxes of print blocks. Each wooden block was carved by hand and it could take up to two weeks to carve some of the more elaborate patterned blocks. I learned that each print takes multiple blocks – the most elaborate fabrics can require as many as 28 different blocks. Because they are made of wood, each block can only be used less than 300 times before its crisp, precise lines become blurred and a new block must be carved.
I quickly learned how difficult the printing process can be, after trying it! Master printers, using techniques that are centuries old, are highly valued for their skill. It takes great strength and a steady hand to line up the blocks precisely to get the exact print. Men do the block printing and women do all the embroidery and embellishments by hand, after the fabric is dyed and finished.
At that time, all of the dyes used in this village came from nature. For example, black dye was made from a combination of iron horseshoes and blackstrap molasses. After the fabrics were dyed in huge outdoor earthen vats, they were washed three times and then laid out on the desert floor to dry. The sun would bake in the color, setting the dye.
The finished fabrics were then carried to the town of Jaipur via burro, where they were used to create reversible jackets, pairing two different prints with a fine layer of lightweight cotton fill in between. The materials were sewn by hand and trapunto-stitched on a single-needle treadle machine. The women in the workrooms would create the self-covered buttons by hand and detail the jackets with further embellishments and embroidery, depending on the design.
The quality and care that go into our reversible jackets is unparalleled, and every jacket is still a unique, handcrafted work of art. The men and women we work with in India take great pride in continuing this centuries-old tradition of artistry and block printing. Our longtime vendor partners – Sam Hilu and Raman Monga – are the guardians of this tradition of quality.”
Orvis is proud to offer our customers the world’s finest handcrafted reversible jackets.