We're excited to share our exclusive interview with, fashion designer, Tricia Bendik. A freelance designer & lead designer of the Anchal X Urban Renewal
collection, Tricia has once again partnered with Anchal on her new line Bendikova!
Learn more about her relationship with Anchal, personal design process & plans for the future.
Tricia, you've been involved with the Anchal Project for a few years now, tell us how this relationship got started?
Well, it all started with an eccentric woman I was compelled to talk to at my gym named Barbara. She turned out to be the mother of one of Colleen's close friends, and she connected Colleen and I because we had common interests - namely, textiles. I am a freelance clothing designer for Urban Outfitters, Urban Renewal division. I pitched the idea to them to design and produce a line (one season only) of clothing using Anchal's quilts. They liked the idea and we moved forward with the Anchal X Urban Renewal line that got to stores, I believe in the fall of 2013. Urban was kind enough to give back a generous portion of the sales to Anchal. I felt proud to be involved, and happy to use my skills toward a good cause.
You just created a beautiful collection of clutches, pouches & yoga bags using pieces of Anchal's textiles, can you tell us more about your new line Bendikova?
Firstly, thank you : ) . I loved partnering with Anchal on the line for Urban Outfitters, and wanted to expand that idea. I see Bendikova
as a template for doing that. The idea is to collaborate on design projects/products with individuals and organizations that I respect and want to support. With Anchal specifically, I am donating a portion of the proceeds of each bag sale made with Anchal quilt back to Anchal Project. I'd like to gradually incorporate other organizations into Bendikova as well - using textiles from various places and/or working with organizations in other supportive ways. Really I'm very open, and just considering options as they present themselves.
As a designer, what sparked your interest in Anchal's textiles & why was it important for you to include Anchal in your new collection?
My work as a designer had brought me to India a handful of times. When I would come back home, I always felt, after awhile, a pull to go back. Friends and family would ask, You love India, right? But no. I wouldn't say it's that simple. But it is just SUCH a compelling place. And the tradition of handiwork - embroidery and embellishment - there is so strong. It is an amazingly decorative culture. I have always been inspired by India in that way.
As I began to work closer with Indian manufacturers I realized that I was also very interested in the way things were done there. We have this idea here that our clothes come off an assembly line, things are mechanical and happen regularly. In India this isn't the case. So many things are still made by hand - much more than you think. When clothes have been touched and worked with by human hands in that way, they have a different quality. The product that comes out on the other end, the one we see, fall in love with, and buy here, is very much connected to the individual person who's hands touched and formed it. There is so much pride taken in the textile work that people do there. This is something I love.
It was exactly that quality that drew me to work with Anchal. An aesthetic appreciation for the beauty of the quilts, coupled with a love for the emphasis on the specific individuals making them (I try whenever possible to keep the name embroidered in Hindi on the quilt pieces of the artisan who created the quilt). And then the fact, of course, that Anchal helps women in dire straights to become empowered, financially and in spirit.
Having traveled to India in 2013 with Anchal's Co-Founder Colleen Clines, what was one of your most memorable experiences getting to work with Anchal artisans?
Probably the fact that I was trying to teach them embroidery stitches
that they would then teach me back in a much better way that I hadn't even thought of! When I remember it, the things I most think of are all the saturated colors of the women's saris as they sit on the ground doing their work, chatting, laughing, and drinking tea. And the way that some women decided of their own accord that they'd prefer to work together on a project - that was sweet. There were 3 sisters who were so full of life and mischief, who overwhelmed me with questions - did I oil my hair? did I have a boyfriend? what did I think of this or that music? I don't think I will ever forget them. And of course hearing some of the women's personal stories was incredibly eye opening. How easy it is for a poor girl as young as 11 or 12 to be pressured into prostitution by her own father or brother really shocked me.
How does sustainability play a role in your design process? What are your thoughts on the future of eco-fashion?
I think I have always been most interested in people - their ideas, their creativity, and whether people involved in the process of making feel empowered and connected. The sewer of my bags is a friend who I met through my fiancé. She lives 3 blocks away, so I can walk over there and sit with her to work out issues with the bags. Especially when we are working on a new design. In the same way, though I don't know all of Anchal's artisans, I met many on my trip with Colleen. This is important to me. I also like working with recycled goods, and plan to do more of that as well.
I think there is definitely a parallel between things happening in food, and evolutions in fashion. And I think that small is good. When operations are small, you understand where things come from, and that is important. Not knowing where things come from makes not caring how or who makes the things you buy the sort of path of least resistance. And caring, in a gentle and compassionate way, is always better than not caring.
We love your work - what can we look forward to seeing from you & Bendikova in the future?
All my friends keep asking for diaper bags. So you'll likely be seeing that! Some more handwork pieces by yours truly as well. And I'm continuing to keep an eye out for great organizations like Anchal to collaborate with so hopefully you'll be seeing fruits of that soon enough!
A big thanks to Tricia for sharing her passions and the story behind her beautiful pieces! Make sure to head over to Bendikova
and shop her new amazing clutches, yoga bags, totes & more.