Behind The Line: Working With Indigenous Designs
When you pull up the cozy hood of one of our new limited-edition Warli Sky Transcendent Down Jackets, or slide your toes into the warmth of the Warli Sky Tundra Aerogel Booties, you’re participating in a creative act, in more ways than one. The celestial pattern on our Warli Sky Collection items tells a story—and your participation in it gives back to artisans who then have the chance to share their skills with the next generation.
The starry patterns on these products are brought to you through a new partnership we’re really excited about. We’re working with an organization called Roots Studio to lease patterns—like the Warli Sky pattern—from indigenous artists. And there are more rad patterns in the pipeline for spring.
How it works
Roots Studio helps us connect to creatives working in their traditional arts and crafts, like the Warli tribe in Maharashtra, India, known for their painting. They’ve been creating art for thousands of years, but with increased urbanization, their traditional arts and way of life have been threatened. Roots Studio helps connect companies like Outdoor Research with local artists like the Warli painters by creating prints from the artists’ work and licensing them sustainably—with royalties wired back to the villages, on average 20 times the original selling price. Their profit split structure honors individual creativity and community development by sending 75% to the individual artist and 25% to a community fund that allows the village to vote on spending for community needs.
The only changes Roots Studio makes to an artist’s work are 1) to repeat the design so it can be used on, say, fabric for a puffy jacket, and 2) change the art form from raster to vector so it can be scaled up or down and used on fabric.
About the artists
The Warlis, whom we leased the Warli Sky pattern from, hail from Maharashtra, India, on the western side of the nation’s peninsula. They’re known for a painting style featuring white geometric symbols, traditionally painted with a white powder ground from rice onto red mud walls. Their depictions and motifs are strongly rooted in their agrarian way of life, depicting traditional fables, rituals and daily routine.
About the Warli Sky Print
The print featured in our Warli Sky Collection is an unaltered design of the night sky that the Warli people paint on their house walls, which is then adapted onto canvas. The sun, moon, and stars in every Warli painting signify the importance of always being true to yourself and your duty. Because these elements are constant and reliable in our everyday lives, they represent the belief that life will ensue no matter what.
“Looking at the stars makes you reflect on the good things in life, being fortunate to get away and be thankful for all that you have in life,” says product manager Kylene Wolfe. “We were drawn to this print as it relates to getting out of the city, into the quiet backcountry—how on a clear night you can see lots of stars! Quiet peacefulness is what I think of—getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life.”
About Roots Studio
Roots Studio enables rural artists to participate in the global economy without having to be in an urban center. They believe that traditional art is special, unique, and worth holding on to, which is why their goal is to allow craft communities to thrive and survive in this new, globalized world.
By helping indigenous artists digitize their unique and endangered heritage arts, and by creating a business model supporting their communities in a financially sustainable way, Roots Studio hopes to empower those artists with authorship, consent and economic power for the future.
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