Malabar first introduced silks to its ranges as a natural complement to the colourful hand loom cotton collections. With ranges spanning slubby natural silks, versatile curtain and heavy weight silk plains, complicated jacquards and delicately embroidered silks, Malabar offers an extensive choice in this ancient, beautiful and lustrous yarn. All are designed to work alongside corresponding cottons and Paintworks colours by Malabar.
All Malabar’s silks come from India where there is a centuries-old tradition of sericulture (the cultivation and production of silk yarn) and silk weaving. Sericulture is an eco-friendly form of yarn production, which uses low land holding but produces good revenues. In India 60% of those working in sericulture – from the mulberry garden management and leaf harvesting to silkworm rearing – are women, providing valuable employment in rural areas. Less than an acre of mulberry garden and silkworm rearing can support a family of three without hiring labour. Most of Malabar’s silk is cultivated using the mulberry silk worm, the most popular species used for commercial silk production today.
Silk weaving is concentrated mostly in the Karnataka area of the country, centred around Bangalore in western India, although hand loom silk production of collections such as Moonga are woven in Calcutta, in the north east. Twenty-first century technology in the shape of the power loom is used to weave the more sophisticated fabrics in Malabar’s collections such as the giant-scale exotic floral jacquard design ‘Zanzibar’ and the exuberantly coloured ‘Zari’ collection which embodies the spirit of India, warp and weft.