Handmade In Ladakh Local Brands To Shop From

Several local businesses are carrying on Ladakh's rich textile traditions by adhering to the slow fashion ideal, using local raw materials and indigenous handmade techniques, tools, and skills
Ladakh is a cultural melting pot located between Tibet and Kashmir
Ladakh is a cultural melting pot located between Tibet and Kashmir
Ladakh is a cultural melting pot located between Tibet and Kashmir. It was one of the key settlements along the Silk Road, making it incredibly rich, culturally, in terms of art, crafts, and textiles. The many such tribes that arrived over the silk route influenced everything from cuisine to crafts to decoration. The rich textile traditions are being taken forward by several local brands who follow the ethos of slow fashion, using local raw materials and indigenous handmade traditions and skills, sometimes even reviving the region&rsquos weaving traditions. Here are a few local brands you should seek out and shop from when you are in Ladakh next.  

Utpala Leh

"Values passed down from generation to generation are the most precious and kept secure"&mdashthat's the credo of this Ladakh-based brand whose pieces showcase the rich cultural heritage of the region. They use Himalayan herbs, flowers, and vegetable dyes to create pieces that combine utility and elegance, classicism with modernity, and intricate diamond weave patterns (known as lukmik). Pick up a lightweight camel wool blazer, and pair it with a basket-weaved Pashmina muffler made with Pashmina wool. Their silk tie-dye scarves are immensely popular, and they have been selling them for over a decade. Each scarf is hand-dyed using natural dyes and elements like walnuts. Their master weavers hail from several villages in Ladakh, such as Chiktan and Phelung Wakha in Kargil, and Dipling in Zanskar. 

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Oden Collective 

The folks behind Oden Collective, which makes sheep wool products, believe that crafted products are a luxury and cannot be replaced because of their exclusive manual process. "Every twist of the yarn, every movement of the shuttle to weave the fabric, is very personal to each artisan. So you are not just buying a product but also receiving somebody's labour of love," they say. Among the bestsellers is the Hikma woollen shawl, which is made with wool or wool blend as it involves tie-dye, which needs a bit of strength on the fabric. A typical product worn across Ladakh is the Thikma Skeyraks (waist belt), and you can find them here too. They use traditional Ladakhi looms, which are completely handmade and have been passed down through generations. Pick up a feather-light, textured pure Pashmina stole, ideal for elegant outings and special occasions during the evening. Their high-low weave makes it airier and creates an elegant fall. They also make Pashmina unisex mufflers. "Remember, when you buy Pashmina products from Ladakh, you are directly contributing to the Pashmina herders in Changthang as well as the many women's groups involved in the process," they explain.

Lena Ladakh

Lena Ladakh is a community of women who celebrate the beauty of their work and environment by making high-quality shawls, throws, and home textiles with locally sourced Pashmina, sheep, and yak wool. They use fresh colour blooms in their products, creating amazing hues. For instance, the most delicate shades of pink are obtained from sappan wood and lac. "With our final product, we want to show you the amazing possibilities of working with nature and the fruits of the interaction of heart, soul, hand, and nature in a beautiful and magical way," they explain. They also host workshops from time to time wherein participants can explore the processes involved in making Pashmina products with their team of craftswomen through specially curated sessions in spinning, natural dyeing, and weaving.

Cover photo credit Shutterstock

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