Five countries, five crafts, and one jacket.

In 2016, five designers from across South Asia came together to create what is now known as the traveling jacket. Although this jacket was created seven years ago, the story continues to serve as an inspiration of connectivity, and the jacket remains a portrayal of extraordinary synergy. Vogue India refers to it as the ‘metaphorical adventurer,’ and rightfully so, it was.

In the realm of fashion, where creativity and cultural expression intertwine, a remarkable creation has emerged: the traveling jacket, crafted by South Asian designers. This distinctive garment encapsulates the rich textile crafts of South Asian traditions, seamlessly blending them with contemporary design elements. As we delve into the story behind this sartorial marvel, we witness a celebration of diversity, artistry, and the power of fashion to bridge cultural divides.


India, New Delhi



The commencement began in India, New Delhi, where designer Rahul Mishra constructed the framework of the jacket using black fabric in his studio. He designated one of the shoulders and half of the bust area as his personal canvas to showcase his craft through detailed embroidery and unique lacework in white, reserving the remaining area for his fellow artists to portray their visions.

Sri Lanka, Colombo



The jacket started her first travel journey, progressing her way to Sri Lanka where designer Kanchana Thalpawila awaited in her studio in Colombo. With a few setbacks in the process and tightness in schedule, the designer and her team managed to push their way in completing their part on the due schedule. The Sri Lankan designer sourced her idea from the Royal costume of the kings and noblemen of Kandy and constructed round-shaped sleeves that resemble the trunk of a Sri Lankan elephant. She then incorporated the weaving technique known as Dumbara, native to the nation that dates back thousands of years, yet still retained the monogrammatic visual set by the first designer.


Bangladesh, Dhaka



After completing its second mission, the traveling jacket made its way to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to the studio of designer Humaira Khan, who awaited in excitement to compose her design on the jacket. The designer chose ‘Jamdani,’ a Bangladeshi textile which, in fact, is known to be one of the finest muslins woven in Bangladesh, and finally combined it with Dhaka cotton known as ‘taat,’ to finish her representation on the progressing jacket. Unfortunately, during that time, in her neighborhood, a terrorist attack took the lives of 20 people in a restaurant in Gulshan 2 and shook the city. Khan lost dear people she knew, and in her grief, she still stood strong and helped support her community in whatever ways she could. Before sending off the jacket that’s bound to travel, she embroidered along the edge, ‘Love is Humanity,’ in their native language, Bangla.

By now, the traveling jacket has been embedded with deep messages and sentiments that speak beyond tangibility.


Nepal, Kathmandu



The jacket then directed her way toward the Himalayas where designer Aayusha Shrestha resides in Kathmandu, Nepal. The city at that time was still healing from calamities caused by the earthquake the year before. Since Shrestha is a jewelry designer, she worked her way around in accessorizing the garment with a hand-crafted belt and buttons. Inspired by the lotus motif that symbolizes spiritual enlightenment in Buddhism and Hinduism, she worked with traditional Nepali metal craftsmen to craft the belt. The designer collected animal waste, like the horns of sacrificed animals for religious ceremonies, and had them carved out as buttons by the master craftsmen. She said It was her way of showing respect to the animals that had been sacrificed for the sins of human beings.


Bhutan, Paro



The traveling jacket has so far seen four countries and four narratives infused with traditions, values, sorrow, and resilience. The monochromatic visual remained consistent until she reached her final destination, Bhutan. Also known as the land of the Thunder Dragon, the small kingdom holds its culture and traditions in its mountains epitomized by the concept of happiness. Designer Chimmi Choden chose an old traditional ‘Kira’, a heavily woven textile known as ‘Oshom’. The eccentric vision of the designer offsets the monochrome visual with a splash of rawness and crisp woven colors, and in a way, it says a lot about what Bhutan’s fashion portrayal potentially could be. The jacket completes her final mission and returns back to where she came from, now remaining as a symbol. Vogue India describes it as “Calm and fierce at the same time” which indeed it was, making each craft visible in its right form.

With its fusion of traditional aesthetics and contemporary design, the traveling jacket transcends boundaries and becomes a global symbol of fashion. Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the jacket holds a deeper significance and serves as a vessel for self-expression, enabling individuals to embrace their cultural identity with pride. By donning this distinctive garment, one can assert their connection to their roots while simultaneously embracing a modern, global outlook.

The traveling jacket becomes a powerful symbol of empowerment, embodying the spirit of cultural diversity and promoting inclusivity. As this remarkable garment traveled across borders, it reminds us of the transformative power of fashion that unites us through one language we all speak, Art.