gifts from the forest
Our Wild Silk Collection
Our wild silk collection comes from a weaving cooperative in Eastern India. The cooperative is a member of a trade union for self-employed women workers, which supports almost a million women across India with services such as healthcare, child care, insurance, loans and leadership training. The particular cooperative we are working with creates handwoven textiles using wild silk sourced from local forest areas.
What is wild silk?
Wild silk differs from conventional silk in two important ways. Firstly, whereas conventional silk comes from domesticated silkworms that are farmed, wild silk comes from silkworms that live semi-autonomously in forests, hence the term 'wild'. Wild silk fabric also differs from conventional silk in its look and feel. It is made of shorter threads that are hand spun rather than reeled, which creates a more 'slubby' fabric with a subtle pattern created by the different thread lengths. It is less uniform and shiny than conventional silk, but has a subtle glimmer instead.
What are the benefits?
At Ecosophy, we are promoting the use of wild silk not only because of its unique appearance and texture, but also because of its potential as a source of sustainable rural livelihoods. For people living near the forest areas of Eastern India that serve as habitats for silk worms, wild silk cultivation provides a financial incentive to maintain the biodiversity of these areas. In some parts of India, people are even starting to plant trees on degraded land in order to create further habitat for silk worms. By choosing to use wild silk together with hand weaving techniques, we are contributing to the creation of livelihoods in areas where there are few alternatives. To begin with, we are working with a cooperative made up of 100 families, all of whom are paid living wages and receive health insurance and legal advice. Through increasing consumer interest in wild silk, which currently is fairly unknown in the West, we aim to help this cooperative extend its support to increasing numbers of weavers and sericulturalists across East India.