Bored of stripes? Sick of plains? It’s time to stick a slice of Ikat into your daily rig.
This instantly recognisable cloth first made an entrance into western wardrobes in the early 20th century, when European anthropology boffins started bringing it back from research trips to South East Asia. The word itself – which means ‘to bind’ goes some way to explain the weaving process (which, trust us, is no walk in the park). Vibrant, unique and always authentic, it’s one of those fabrics that makes you feel as though you’ve just stepped off an aeroplane from faraway lands – even if it was just a mini-break to Berlin (chance would be a fine thing eh?).
Breathable, comfortable and guaranteed to get better with wear, it’s been a favourite of U.W. 's founder, David Keyte, for donkey’s years.
He explains, “I’ve long been a fan of Ikat fabrics, we first saw it in Japan – where it’s called Kasuri, and it was being used for traditional garments made with natural indigo dyes. It's popular across many cultures in India, Asia, South and Central America – as well as Europe and Japan. The intricate technique of taking resist-dyed yarns, and then weaving it into patterns is a laborious and highly skilled task, which accounts for the price, which has remained higher than your average fabrics for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Ikat weaving can be used for silks and very fine yarns, but I always prefer the simple cotton versions with simple bold, geometric patterns."
"I guess I’ve always thought this fabric could step out of its tradition to become a modern classic. It’s a strong pattern for contemporary shirting, beyond the obvious check and prints of most menswear – and we’ve included at least one Ikat pattern in every collection since we began over 12 years ago. Its popularity has spurred us on to commission our own designs and colourways from the trusted Ikat supplier we’ve been working with in southern India – which means we’ll finally have an Ikat we can call our own.”