Jos&fine, the three year old Pashmina manufacturer who in 2016 created the record for creating the finest Pashmina fabrics recorded till date, has added another feather in its cap- a collection of the most complicated and intricate Kani Pashmina shawls crafted in over a century which it calls Project Legacy.
Sitting in his home-office, in Srinagar’s Shivpora area, Aaditya Kitroo, the co-founder and managing director of the French-Kashmiri brand said, “The idea came about 2 years ago to recreate Kani shawls with levels of detailing and finishing that went extinct around a century ago. The idea was in line with our company’s motto “Scripted in France. Crafted in Kashmir” for the French were the main patrons of Kani shawls in the 1800s with French merchants and designers regularly travelling to Kashmir those days.”
Kitroo added, “The designs produced in our studio in France were inspired from Kani shawls designed in the 1800s by French designers especially Berrus and recreated them with motifs that were more modern and in line with the choices of customers today.”
What is Project Legacy?
Project Legacy took around 24 months to materialise. “It was about more than doubling the intricacy of the standard Kani Jamawar shawls in existence. It took us around 6 months to identify artisans with not just skilful hands but patience, perseverance and an eagerness to take on an extreme craftsmanship challenge,” Kitroo said.
“This involved travelling beyond Srinagar and its suburbs where most of our operations take place and venture into villages far away in quest of the apt artisans for Project Legacy. In fact, the project started off with us identifying two very skilled young women from a village with hands better than those of some of the most talented artisans we have worked with before. They formed the foundation of Project Legacy and are true ‘Sheroes’”
Kitroo stressed that the project is all about creating masterpieces.
“It is about pushing the limits of craftsmanship to create pieces that are very unique and truly masterpiece. I do not consider a Kani Jamawar to be a masterpiece unless the levels of detailing and finishing in it are such that people rarely see. Under Project Legacy, we more than doubled intricacy from around 130-150 tujis of the Kani Jamwar made these days to around 350-400 tujis per meter in the weft which allows us to craft such pieces, “Kitroo informed.
He further added, “In fact, when the first piece of Project Legacy came off the loom, we had all the other artisans in the workship stop work on their looms just to see the final result. Of course, the main challenge here is scalability as training artisans to such levels takes time. At present, Project Legacy Kani pieces are limited to only 10 pieces per year of which half are already booked before the crafting process has begun. We will have a waitlist very soon depending on the response of it.”
Kitroo believes that, “The main patrons are connoisseurs of Pashmina and collectors from different parts of India who also look at these pieces as investments that increase in value over time. Outside of India, it gets quite interesting for we have European and American clients who are looking to create true bespoke pieces, usually very large Kani shawls, which can then be used as wall hangings. I believe that once a very high level of craftsmanship is achieved the applicability of the piece does not remain just that of a wearable item but also as an art piece that can be framed and displayed.”