Forget wrapping paper, ribbons and the pretty gift box you pop your presents in because there’s a new kid on the gift-wrapping block. This cool cat is reusable, fashion-focused trendsetter. Meet the Knot Wrap; a beautifully-designed piece of fabric that can be crafted into hundreds of fabulous wrapping styles for creating show-stopping gifts.
The gorgeous collection of Knot Wraps are inspired by the art of furoshiki (the ancient Japanese tradition of wrapping items with a piece of cloth). Sharing techniques similar to those used in origami, you can learn to wrap almost anything regardless of its shape or size, and there are hundreds of styles to choose from. Alternatively, if that doesn’t appeal, you can upcycle the cloth and use it for something else entirely: a hair tie, a scarf, a belt, or upcycle it by transforming it into something original: a piece of wall art, a cushion, a cuddly toy… the choice is yours and the possibilities are endless.
At Lush we source Knot Wraps through environmentally sustainable routes; working with a company to collect stunning hand-picked vintage wraps, sourcing a range of fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles and working in partnership with re-wrap. Re-wrap are an inspirational women’s cooperative in India, whose proud ethos of recycle, reclaim, reinvent Their stunning bookshop bag, caught our attention in 2007. Their collection of reusable cotton cloth wraps are made using innovative and sustainable resources, by disadvantaged communities in India to help them gain economic independence.
Origin story: re-wrap; Knot Wrap extraordinaires
In 2001 a devastating earthquake rocked the West Indian region of Kutch, killing more than 20,000, destroying over 8,000 villages and making more than a million people homeless.
Inspired by the resilience of the community she had witnessed in Kutch, a young woman named Janjri Trivedi travelled to Mysore. There, she met a number of resilient artisans who continued to create beautiful hand embroidered crafts despite the devastation that had overwhelmed their community. Humbled by their plight and impressed by their skills, Janjri felt determined to create a self help group. The aim was to create economic independence and resilience for women facing challenges within their personal circumstances through craft and skill.
Having grown up working in her family’s recycled, hand-woven furnishings business Janjri was motivated by her father’s passion for creative recycling and inspired by her mother’s keen eye for art and design. So she came up with the idea of creating a cooperative that would sell its traditionally made crafts in the global marketplace.
Less than a year later Janjri had founded re-wrap, a self-funded venture based in Mysore that offered fellow female artisans the opportunity to practice traditional skills with dignity and increased financial security. Over time the core aim of the group evolved to not only preserve the specialised skills of the artisans, but also create a place where local women, who often had challenging home circumstances, could learn sewing techniques enabling them to earn a fair wage and possess a marketable skill. Taught by the seasoned seamstresses, the eager new members receive 3-6 months of extensive training before they are ready to collectively weave their way through the wonderful product range, which as well as reusable wraps, includes bags, aprons, and kitchen accessories.
Today Re-wrap has two cooperative sites, the original base 'Sanmaan Exports' in Mysore, which works with 78 women, and a second independent unit in nearby Gumballi, which opened in 2014. Set in rural surrounds, twenty women from agricultural backgrounds have been trained to sew with skill and, most importantly, confidence. All the women, many of whom have now become the sole income earners for their families, earn what the cooperative says is an ‘above average wage’, with their income rising by 40% since 2009. Speaking of the enterprise Janjri said it, “equips economically disadvantaged women with sewing skills, enabling them to survive with dignity and self-respect, allowing them to earn money to feed their families and send their children to school.”
During their working day, lunch and snacks are provided for everyone, and time is offered to practice yoga therefore ensuring a proactive start to their day. The women and their families enjoy four group outings each year. What’s more, all members of the cooperative receive a pension and family insurance policy. “Working at re-wrap means I am happy and have food and can send my son to school,” 33-year-old member and mother Kalpana says fondly, a sentiment shared by fellow re-wrap artisan Jayalakshimi, who claims her colleagues are, “more like a family than friends”.
As well as being socially regenerative, the products Re-wrap craft try to have the lowest impact on the environment as possible too. Standing for a philosophy of recycle, reclaim, reinvent, the cooperative uses recycled fabric in a variety of ways, for example: waste cotton is used for their webbed handles, recycled boxes are reused for packing their goods and fabric offcuts strengthen the base of their products. (Offcuts that can’t be used in this way go to Khadi papers in Hubli, to be used to make paper.)
“Re-wrap is founded on creating a sustainable, eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags and paper wrapping products,” the company's website declares. “We are committed to the culture of recycling to save our planet.”
All of the beautiful Knot Wraps crafted here employ natural and organic cotton, which is grown in certified pesticide-free and herbicide-free soil, using organic farming methods, which are said to produce healthier fabrics. Using organic cotton which is GM seed free while the crops are not sprayed with chemical pesticides, ensures the health of the farmers and the soil. Furthermore, the people involved in its production are paid a fair wage and work in good conditions. What’s more, the professional seamstresses only use traditional, and environmentally safe, dyeing and printing processes.The dyes and printings inks are Azo free and reverse osmosis to capture pigment therefore waterways are not polluted.
So there you have it. Wrapping your gifts in this beautiful handmade cloth not only makes them look amazing, but it also prevents waste, can help to protect the environment, and supports communities that may have otherwise been abandoned. So the next time you pop into your local Lush store to pick up a gift, why not have it gift wrapped in a beautiful Knot Wrap?