Panchachuli Women Weavers Co-operative - Ethical fabrics and accessories from the Himalayas of Northern India

“Transforming womens lives, one loom at a time”

Panchachuli UK is an exciting new ethical company which has just launched in the UK to support the Panchachuli Women Weavers Co-operative from Northern India. Founded in 2005 the co-operative is a truly inspiring story of womens empowerment and enterprise in a rural and remote region of the Himalayas.

Inspired by the craftmanship of only a few remaining master weavers, the story began in 1998 when Mukti Datta set to work at reviving the lost art of handlooming and began to train a handful of local women. Datta found support from her business partner and friend Dena Kaye and together they dreamt of transforming the lives of oppressed women of the region.

Ten years later the co-operative employs over 750 local women who work at processing the raw materials, then dye, hand spin, weave, or knit and beautifully embroider a vast range of luxury accessories and fabrics. In 2006 the products were selected by UNESCO for their prestigious 'Seal of Excellence for Handicrafts' award.

The co-operative is now the largest independant co-operative in the state of Uttarakhand. The women themselves are shareholders in the company and today a ‘Panchachuli woman’ stands for an independant wage earner. The co-operative has flourished over the last decade and grown into a truly vibrant, self reliant industry.
Through Datta’s passion, vision and energy Panchachuli is leading the way in ethical business practice. A three month World bank study concluded that Panchachuli was a model for socio-economic change and its importance as a prototype has drawn widespread interest and global coverage.

After a decade of hardwork and dedication the Women Weavers of Kumaon are proud to launch their exclusive range of products into the UK for the first time this season.
The collections are made entirely by hand and lovingly crafted using high grade raw materials from pure Pashmina, Lambswool, Merino Sheepwool, Bactrian Camel wool, Peace Silk and Himalayan Nettle. What makes their collections so unique is the variety of weaves and colours, not usually found in Indian weaving.

The Munsiyari collection – Exquisite natural pashmina from the land of snow

The first collection, the Munsiyari collection is named after the tribal region on the Indo–Tibet border. Only the purest Tibetan Pashmina from nomads on the high Tibetan plateau is used in the making of Panchachuli products. The women themselves cross the passes into Tibet, barter with the nomads and return to India on mule caravans with the raw fibre. It is then processed by hand at the main production unit before being hand spun and handwoven or handknitted to create beautiful stoles, scarves, wraps, shawls, throws, blankets and fabric lengths.

The Baldoti Collection – Himalayan nettle fibre from the slopes of Kumaon

The Baldoti collection is named after one of the original villages where training for handlooms was started and comprises unusual products made from the fibre of Himalayan Nettle. Iso free and natural dyes are used to create a wonderful range of hand knitted scarves and stoles. The special evening stole has beads woven into the fabric and is lined in silk.

The Kasardevi Collection – Luxourious lambswool in an array of natural colours

The Kasardevi Collection is named after the Kasardevi temple which is one of the most important in the region of the women weavers. Fine lambswool is dyed with colourfast vegetable dyes collected from the roots, flowers bark and leaves of indigenous plants. 31 colours are available in a variety of different weaves. The collection comprises fabric lengths as well as shawls, scarves, stoles and throws.

The Pateldevi Collection – Fine handwoven lambswool, merino and angora blends

The Pataldevi collection is named after the area where the main production unit of Panchachuli Women Weavers is based. It comprises fine lambswool and merino / angora blends in iso free dyes. The yarn is millspun and handwoven in a lightweight weave suitable for summer shawls, scarves and stoles. It comes in 37 dyes and 14 different weaves. The collection comprises fabric lengths as well as shawls, scarves, stoles and throws.

The Almora Collection – Lambswool / Sheepwool Tweeds

The Almora collection is inspired by the traditional tweeds and fabrics for which Almora town is famous. The tweed designs and patterns were introduced to the region in the mid twentieth century by the Scottish settlers, but slowly declined in the region after cheaper powerloom products were developed elsewhere. After extensive research by Panchachuli the tweed designs and weaves have been bought back to life and are flourishing once again. The fabrics are available by the metre, in lambswool and sheepwool and come in 9 weaves and 42 colours.

The Chamoli Collection – Oak Silk, Bactrian Camel Wool and Sheepwool / lambswool blends

Chamoli is a remote region of Uttarakhand and it is known for its natural fibres. This fabric collection is inspired by the rugged and wild terrain of the region and uses fibres such as Himalayan Oak Silk, Lambswool, Bactrian Camel Wool and Sheepwool. The fabrics are available by the metre in 4 different weaves and a range of natural colours plus 37 dyes.

All these wonderful products are now available through Panchachuli UK. The aim of International expansion is to fund the training of a further 500 – 1000 women in the area by the establishment of further co-operatives.

For more information please contact: leonie@panchachuli.co.uk / mary@panchachuli.co.uk

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Comment by Holly Pressdee on August 9, 2010 at 13:18
Hey Mary,

Its great to read all your work thats going on with your company and the weavers!!
Im helping a friend out setting up a company and she wants to weaver up silk scarves, Howevere we are finding it hard trying to get the right people to work with, and finding artisans that can dye up our yarns, as we would love to have dip dyed areas of our scarves.
so that is why i wanted to get in touch with you, and to find out if there was any chance we could collaborate with you and your amazing workers. We can accredit your weavers, go over visit, help with set up and sampling?
If this is something you think could would it would be amazing to hear from you, and possibly sort out a meeting or talk over the phone.
My email address is holly_pressdee@hotmail.com or my phone number is 07791602945.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Many thanks

Holly xx
Comment by Tamsin Lejeune on May 20, 2009 at 9:50
What an excellent blog post, thank you Panchachuli

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