Words by David Keyte,

I've long been a fan of IKAT fabrics, often called KASURI in Japan. That was where we first saw and admired this type of fabric in traditional garments mostly in Indigo dyes.

Ikat is a traditional fabric in many cultures in Asia, India and Japan but also in South American, Central America and Europe. The intricate technique of taking resist-dyed yarns, and then weaving into patterns is a laborious and highly skilled work and has always produced fabrics that have been highly-priced for hundreds if not a thousand years. 
Whilst IKAT weaving can be in silks and very fine yarns and highly expensive, I always prefer the simple cotton versions with mostly simple bold geometric patterns.
I guess I always thought this fabric could step out of its tradition to become a modern classic. A strong pattern for contemporary shirting, beyond the obvious check and prints of most menswear to be something we at Universal Works could make our own.

We have shown at least one IKAT pattern in all our collections since we began over 11 years ago. Working with one supplier in southern India, buying their designs and colours, as well as now commissioning our own exclusive IKAT designs and colours! 

Stephanie wears, Navy Handloom Ikat Road Shirt, Pleated Track Pant, UW x Birkenstock- Boston Sand,  David Wears, Charcoal Handloom Ikat Road Shirt, Navy Twill Pleated Track Pant, câbleami® Pork Pie Hat, UW. x Sebago


The fabric can be either single or double IKAT, double being more expensive and more difficult to make, as the pattern is made of tie-dyed or space-dyed yarns in both warp and weft, (i.e up and across the fabric). They have the same pattern on the back and front due to the nature of the weave. These are made from small batches woven on slow narrow looms, creating double-sided, soft handful fabric, perfect for a shirt for a late summer evening.  

A characteristic of IKAT is the “blurriness” of the pattern, this is created due to the extreme difficulty for the weavers to line up the pre-dyed yarns. For me, these “imperfections”  bring out IKATS handmade charm and beauty. 

For our new selection of IKAT's, we brought together some of our older patterns in new colours and new patterns in Indigo, all in limited numbers. Each one is a unique piece of history, yet a modern statue at the same time. We think, durable but comfortable, distinctive and stylish... A perfect piece of Universal Works then!


View IKAT collection here.