Karim Hadjab

France

Paris based Karim Hadjab develops garments through experimental processes. The foundation is to use pieces that are already existing, either used or not, particularly French work clothing.His ally is nature: The sun, wind, earth, rain, insects, bacteria and microbes. With their help, Karim gives each garment a second life and transforms traditional work clothing into pieces of art.

Philosophy

“Clothing that is aging lives as a human being”. Since childhood, Karim has maintained a playful but sincere relationship with clothing as living 'specimens', whose individual characters and natural life processes are learned and understood by him as he interacts with them over time. For his creations, he “lays the clothes in a natural environment, as man can live”. On the floor, buried in sand, baked in the sun, beaten by rain and wind, or even bathed in water. By acclimatizing for periods of time – sometimes as long as one entire year –in various natural environments changes naturally appear on the clothing and a rare "uniqueness" of the garment is reached, like growth in man.

How it is made

  • French Work Clothing

    Before the rise of global markets and the outsourcing of production to other countries, many small ateliers in France were making functional and durable workers’ clothes. They produced specific styles of uniforms for certain jobs, mostly in indigo blue colour from which the distinction blue and white collar originates. It is the clothes from these ateliers that Karim acquires. He selects pieces dating from the beginning of the century until present today and carries particularly brands, such as AU MOLINEL.

  • The Bogolan Technique

    To transform the workers’ clothes into unique pieces of art, Karim travelled to Mali to learn the Bogolan technique. In Bambara, Bogolan means “made from mud”. It is a dyeing and printing technique that is entirely organic using plant leaves and iron rich mud found at the bottom of the Niger river.

  • An Infusion of Leaves

    To prepare the garment for mud dyeing it has to be soaked in an infusion of leaves from the n’gallama tree. This infusion acts as a natural dye and gives the cloth a deep saffron colour.

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    Applying the Mud

    The mud is carefully applied to each garment from the inside. The mudreacts with the natural dyes and through oxidization a rich black colour is produced. Mud has many medicinal and therapeutic uses and in Malian culture hunters or women after child birth wear Bogolan garments, as they are considered to protect from male volent forces.

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    Letting Nature Work Its Magic

    Once the mud is applied, the garments remain in the sun to “bake” for an entire day.To achieve a deep black colour, the garment is dipped into the boiled leaf concoction, coated with mud and baked in the sun several times. Sometimes this almost meditative process has to be repeated 7 times.

  • The Finished Piece

    Each garment on which Karim works has a history that is as important to him as the processes he uses to create a finished piece. He guards a fascination and respect for the garments he develops; giving old, unwanted, rejected, dejected, and rotten pieces a new life and value.

Products by Karim Hadjab (France)

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