Translating Tradition (exhibition)


Made for Manchester: Craft Objects of Exchange

an Asia Triennial Manchester exhibition

Manchester Craft & Design Centre, (dates) 2011

How might Indian tailors interpret and respond to a contemporary western translation of traditional Indian garments?


This was a collaborative project, which combined Welsh's western design practice with contemporary Gujarati tailoring techniques. Individual interpretation of a single garment design by four Indian tailors revealed the breadth of variation possible within a shared craft practice, as well as the cross-cultural understandings (and misunderstandings) that are developed through international collaboration.


Welsh produced a generic prototype garment, which was made up by four different tailors in Ahmedabad, India. This process enabled Welsh to investigate the subtleties of detail in Indian tailoring processes.


Translating Tradition references B. N. Goswamy, particularly the supplement on patterns by Tarla P. Dundh.

Welsh’s intention was to examine the intricacy and subtlety of the garments, analysing how the jama/angarakhas are constructed, as well as researching the cultural, historical and religious variations in the terminology and practices of Guajarati tailoring and detailing.


Welsh designed the prototype kurta/garment and sent specification drawings to fashion designer Lokesh Ghai, who facilitated the first stage of the project in India. Ghai compiled a short list of Indian tailors with a wide range of skills, qualities and expertise (royal costumier, urban tailor, tribal garment maker etc.).


Welsh selected four tailors to construct the same prototype garment, interpreted in the context of their individual experience and sensibilities. This process exposed the different cultural and regional influences on the tailors and allowed Welsh to compare and contrast the resulting garments. The project aimed to ascertain whether the design quality of these clothes is appealing to a British audience by gathering feedback in Britain through public exhibition.

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