How Japanese designer Ryoko Haraguchi fell in love with Indian fabrics and made it her own with Sind 

Fondly addressed by her peers as Ryoko-san, the 61-year-old designer's label Sind will be on exhibit at Amethyst in Chennai 

Rehna Abdul Kareem Published :  28th December 2018 03:31 PM   |   Published :   |  28th December 2018 03:31 PM
Ryoko Haraguchi

Ryoko Haraguchi

Sixty-one-year old avant-garde Japanese designer Ryoko Haraguchi describes her studio as a fluffy cotton ball. Amused by her answer, we dig a little more and she begins to explain how, after being fascinated by Indian textiles, she found out that the Sindh Indus area in India was once world renowned for its cotton production. “I named my label Sind, because my gallery actually resembled a fluffy cotton ball,” says the designer who was in the city recently for the label’s showcase at Amethyst. For seven years from 1981, she worked as a textile designer for an MNC after which she joined Muji, Ryouhin Keikaku, the retail company in Japan. Here, she continued to work for nine years and travelled around Japan, Thailand and India. She soon fell in love with not the just aesthetics of Indian fabrics, but the yarn, the feel and the construction of the whole piece. “So, my creations are quintessentially Indian, but in terms of colour and techniques, you get to see Japanese influences as well,” explains Ryoko, who studied textile design at Otsuka Institute of Textile Design.   

A two-toned jacket

Ryoko-san, more fondly addressed by her peers, has a love affair with silk. After her first trip to India in 1992, the designer was bowled over by the range of fabric the country had. She loves everything that is sheer and colourful and is obsessed with the art of skillfully joining Indian textiles with traditional Japanese resist dyeing techniques like Itajime (board dyeing) and Kakishibu (persimmon fruit dyeing). We ask her about these techniques and she explains how in Itajime, the thread is dyed using wooden boards carved with finely drawn lines. It is then woven into patterns, she says, also adding that there are only two artisans in Japan who makes them. Kakishibu on the other hand is a 13th century traditional Japanese dye, that resembles a deep amber colour is procured by fermenting unripe persimmon astringent for more than two years.  

Ryoko uses Japanese dyeing techniques

Even though she has her flagship showroom in Tokyo, Sind’s designs are all tailored in the capital. At the showcase that is being held in the city, you can choose from a variety of loose-fitting pants, scarves, tunics, wraps, long jackets and two-tone coats.

Sind’s new designs are predominantly collaborative works with craftspeople in Jaipur and New Delhi. While she worked with traditional master dyers in Jaipur, in Delhi she was teaming up with karigars to develop vibrant contemporary designs. Ryoko initially used to get her fabric dyed in Japan, but ever since she found more avenues to buy and dye fabric in India, she started three workshops on the outskirts of Delhi.  “My idea of new garments are always dependent on Indian silks, linens and cottons. And now my focus is on collaged pieces using a variety of colours and materials,” explains the designer.


On display at Amethyst till January 10,

Stoles starting from Rs.6,000/- and garments starting from Rs.19,000/- onwards.

From 10.30 am onwards.