In the heart of scarf weather, you need something classy, cheerful, and unexpected around your neck — the usual passé pashmina and Mary Poppins-style chunky beginner knit will not do. Enter ikat. A weaving technique that relies on resist dyeing (like tie-dye) to create its designs, ikat has been practiced by cultures from South and Central America to India, Japan, and South East Asia. The most famous ikat is woven in what is now Uzbekistan, from local silk.
UzbekAlive is a fair-trade website based in Kazakhstan that connects independent textile artists in Uzbekistan with buyers across the globe — not just for gorgeous, one-of-a-kind silk scarves but for hats, barrettes, jewelry boxes, slippers, and more. It’s also a great site to learn more about the individual artists and designers.
Traditional ikat patterns tend to be roughly graphic, in bold colors, but there are versions for every taste — stripes, solids, even delicate florals. My favorite — a brilliant blend of fuschia and pink the artist has named “Tango.” And stock up now: One of my most anticipated looks for spring will be slouchy, wide-legged, menswear-inspired trousers, a thin white tank or boy’s undershirt, and a bright, ethnic-print scarf.
Check the site (uzbekalive.com) frequently, as all items are handmade by the artists in small units and the range of items fluctuates. Oh, and the fact that the scarves are all $19.99 or less may have something to do with it, too.