For the production kickoff of our SS’19 collection, the Patta team took a trip to the World Knits factories in Mauritius. See the results in the travel diary below.
The history of the little island —known as the “Star and Key of the Indian Ocean”— is a complex one. Of course, its diverse flora and fauna, tourism and it being the only known habitat of the Dodo, give Mauritius an air of paradise. Having tasted the food and dipped in the ocean there we can say: for good reason. But, Mauritius’ genealogy of colonization is undeniable. The history of Mauritius as an outpost of West European colonialism began with the Portuguese, then the Dutch, French, and finally with the British before they accorded Mauritius its independence in 1968. Indeed, besides exports of sugar, the “white gold” of the early modern age, Mauritius has grown into the basis of a booming export industry that focuses on textiles and manufacturing.
On the first day, we arrive at our beachfront rental and meet our production agent Fatsarazzi. Shortly after, we drive across the island, to World Knits’ —one of Patta’s main manufacturers— central factory. When we arrive, we’re greeted by the Director of Marketing, Adrian Espitalier-Noel. Adrian guides us through the lines of carefully uniform machines in the various huge well-lit factory halls housing the sewing, knitting, printing, and embroidering sections as he proceeds to tell us about the vexed history of World Knits.
Joyfully disoriented, we walk the factory floor. A ritual of precise actions, the garment workers each operate on a specific part of the garment. During this process, every piece is thoroughly inspected for defaults. And after the clothing is approved, it goes to embroidering/printing.
Adrian motions us forward, rushing us through the anachronistic lines; we’re on a tight schedule this week, and this formality tour isn’t supposed to take all day. We move to Printing. The room is packed with all kinds of printers: from roller machines to the silkscreen to the heat-press. The machine operators are working quickly; they appear to be working on their own time. Patta-founder Guillaume gives a satisfied nod, that’s our cue, it is time to get to work.
At this point, we were finalizing the SS’ 19 collection: inspecting every garment with our account agent, Fats, the World Knits account manager Ved, and graphic directors Cedric and Vishnu, to ensure that the collection was ready for production. During these five days, World Knits graced us with extreme patience as we fit, sewed, discarded and wholly changed every single garment.
We came to World Knits to check ourselves on the quality and cuts of our garments and came away with a strong sense of pride in our production. The workers responsible for creating our product are not anonymous to us, we have faces to names and developed personal relationships with them.