Plain Tiger Spotlight: The Handloom

A Return: To Turkish Tradition and What Matters Most

By Renee Fortune

Presenting The Handloom. For people who have not yet experienced the majestic beauty and intrigue of Turkiye (as it was recently renamed), this is your chance to have an encounter with the country fondly referred to as “the magical place where east meets west.”

The Handloom produces apparel and home goods, crafted according to ancient techniques and processes that embody Turkish culture, sprinkled with a few beams of Southern Californian sun. Established in 2014, The Handloom has been making steady progress into over 500 boutiques around the United States, with goals to expand into regions like Australia and Europe. Its partnership with Plain Tiger is part of turning that vision into a reality. 

‘Free-spirited’ is the best way to describe the aesthetic and design philosophy of The Handloom. Browsing the range will undoubtedly conjure up visions of summer, carefree walks on the beach, lazy days with a book in a hammock and sun-kissed soirees with friends.

For brand founder, Cansu Cansever, The Handloom is where “bohemian chic meets oriental tradition. We are the cultural bridge between the ancient ways of Turkiye and the contemporary American aesthetic. It’s a brand that brings people from different creative lifestyles together through fashion, design, nature and a shared love of the outdoors. We are not lost souls; we are resilient travelers wandering in search of art in a preoccupied world.”

Some of The Handloom’s best-sellers include the Skye Palazzo Pants – a deliciously luxurious classic with a sustainable spin. Then there’s the Canggu Maxi Dress in a striped, crinkled-look cotton fabric with metallic thread detail and a slouchy fit that’s perfect for balmy afternoons. There’s also the Bali Wrap Top – a tropicana-chic top with wide-cut sleeves and a front tie that puts the luxury back into loungewear.
“I wanted to find a way to achieve an effortless sense of luxury using cotton. For many years, I’ve been inspired by its breathability, its lightweight form and the way in which it embodies freedom and fun. The Handloom began as an experiment – I tried my hand at bringing simple designs to life using 100% Turkish cotton. And it worked wonderfully.” says Cansu.

To discover the world of The Handloom, we take a trip powered by the imagination. It’s a trip across oceans but also across time, to the Ottoman Empire of the 15th and 16th centuries. 

You could think of this time in Turkish history as a renaissance of luxury, where textile production became a cornerstone of the economy and wealthy nobles developed a particular appetite for luxurious fabrics. During this time, talented craftspeople developed a weaving technique using a traditional handloom to craft textiles that literally lasted for decades. These techniques were passed down through generations, revered as an indigenous art form that gave birth to a flourishing industry.

Unfortunately, the industrial revolution, the invention of machine-operated looms and eventually, the development of the fast fashion sector in Turkiye, turned handloom weaving into a lost art. But now, driven by the resurgence of more ethical and environmentally-sound processes, handloom weaving is being reintroduced to the fashion world and is an essential part of what The Handloom stands for as a brand and a creative philosophy.

As Ceren Cansever, Managing Director of The Handloom explains: “Our team is dedicated to producing fashion that is sustainable and supportive of the livelihoods and dignity of local artisans in the remote villages of Turkiye. All our garments are handwoven from 100% Turkish cotton and we reuse or repurpose leftover fabrics to reduce landfill waste.

The Handloom is a materalisation of our team’s collective love for the planet and the deep-seated belief that building a more sustainable future requires a few positive steps.”
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