January 7th, Patricia Malec

The North India Textile Research Association (NITRA from now on) was the first stop of day five in India. NITRA is an organization that focuses on research, product development, and specialized testing of textiles around the world. Walking through, we saw spinning processes (and learned that Crabyon is an actual fiber made from cellulose and CRAB) and different weaving and spinning machines. In the PQE Lab, we learned about all of the machines that test different physical characteristics of fabric and yarn (my favorite was the snag machine that had little maces on it) and the Chemical Lab showed how colorfastness in fabric reacts to rubbing, laundering, light, weather, and other conditions. Even though the tour was packed with information, I think the most interesting bit was when they explained how dependent companies that use textiles are on testing facilities like NITRA. It just made the world seem a little smaller.15969953_858008174340037_693474087_n

After a few wrong turns on the bus, we were dropped off on a street where people were burning trash and huddling around fires. Considering that the itinerary said we were going to see a designer, you could understand why I thought we were more lost than we expected. But suddenly at Rahul Mishra’s and surrounded by couture. There we met up with Rahul’s wife, Dyvia, and she explained the core workings of the brand and gave us advice on starting out in the professional world like, “to get your work done, you have to know your work better than anybody else” and “no one can feed you creatives. It’s there in you.” Her advice was real and to the point and I thought it was very refreshing. Dyvia then led us to the work area where the brand’s samples are made and oh my goodness what those artisans are doing back there is so incredibly beautiful! They are so talented that it’s hard not to be jealous of them. And after a short Q&A reflection, we left the land of French knots and got back to the bus.

15934614_858008101006711_1547671095_nFinal stop of the evening was Leiner Shoes Pvt. Ltd. and I was definitely running out of steam. Between the hours on the bus and the sensory overload that came with the first two stops, I was not excited about a shoe making factory. And then I walked into the conference room and I was back because being surrounded by shoes that haven’t been put on the market yet is the best wake-up call ever. After a much-needed caffeine and cookie break, we got to tour their sample factory and basically watch the birth of a shoe. So that was pretty incredible and I’m pretty sure my jaw was dropped to the floor about 75% of the time we were down there because it was so remarkable.

If I had to think of a situation in particular that I found frustrating, I would have to backtrack back to NITRA and how every time our tour guide wanted to say something (you know, cause she was guiding our tour. I think it’s reasonable that she had some comments), most of her colleagues just spoke directly over her even if she was trying to contribute. I kept noticing it and it kept bothering me because I’m pretty sure she was in a superior role corporation-wise and a lot of the time she was ignored. This could have been because the men thought they had a lot to say and wanted to cover it or they simply didn’t hear her over the machines, but let’s face it, it was most likely the patriarchal society that is prominent in India shining through and pushing the gender roles into the workplace.

To be honest, the first half of the day might have been my least favorite part of this trip so far. Don’t get me wrong, it was super interesting and had great content, but there can only be so much information thrown at you during a certain time period and a lot of it a was review from Textiles. But the day kept getting better and better with the great advice from Dyvia, the peek into the manufacturing world, and the fact that we got to see some of the shoes produced by Leiner at the mall at the very end of it all.

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