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Centuries-old print known as ikat is chic again
BY LINDA MILLER | Published: June 18, 2012 | Modified: June 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm
One of this season's most popular prints is really centuries old.
Based on an ancient hand-weaving and dying process, ikat, a type of tribal print, is finding its way onto apparel and accessories, as well as home furnishings and accents.
Part of the appeal is that ikat can be bold or subdued, depending on the colors and print. Even better, it's an interesting and welcome alternative to the traditional stripes and florals that come around each spring and summer.
“In this season where prints have been so big, ikats are so big because they're kind of a nonprint print,” said Cindi Shelby, owner of Ruth Meyers. “For people who say they can't wear stripes or they're not a flower person or they don't like polka dots, ikat can be more subdued, depending on the colors. It can be more of a quieter pattern. It's not so out there, ‘look at me.' ... It can be a little easier to wear than some.”
Shelby said she really appreciates that ikat is a centuries-old technique that has been used by many cultures. “It's another example of this global world that we live in,” she said.
Ikat is a process of dying fabric that's similar to tie dye, but it takes more skill and time because it's done before the weaving of the fabric.
“I am loving ikat this season,” said Angela Crawford, owner of Closet Moxie. “While traditional ikat refers to a method of textile weaving, in modern fashion terms it translates into tribal patterns in geometric shapes and brush strokes.”
Along with the range of color options that ikat offers, Crawford said she also likes being able to achieve a chic tribal effect without leopard or zebra. Ikat also tends to be figure-flattering on all body types.
Ikat appeared on the runway a few seasons ago, and it continues to gain popularity at all price ranges, from high-end designer to contemporary brands to cheap chic chains. The print is showing up on tunics, jeans, jumpsuits and dresses, along with handbags and scarves. Embrace head to toe or in accents.
Beyond the wardrobe
It's not just a fashion statement, either.
Trends in fashion and home decor often cross over, and ikat is extremely popular in the home, said Kellie Clements, interior designer and owner of Modern Whimsy.
“It's kind of a modern take on a traditional pattern, so I think that appeals to a vast amount of people,” she said.
Some patterns just turn people off, either because they're too modern or too traditional depending on the color pattern, she said. “That's part of why ikat is so popular right now.”
The print is making a statement on big pieces such as headboards, chairs and window treatments, but most people prefer to use the pattern in smaller doses. Clements said she's opting for ikat pillows in her home.
“For people who like the pattern but are scared to make a commitment, I would strongly encourage them to just do pillows,” she said. An ikat rug or bedding will spruce up a more traditional room, too.
Unlike some patterns, such as stripes and polka dots, ikat tends to look softer because the edges are not so defined.
“Polka dot will scream at you because of the lines of the pattern,” said Clements, who was fourth runner-up on HGTV's “Design Star” last season and as the show's fan favorite now has an online show on HGTV.com.
“Ikat seems more cozy,” she said.