Paris-based designer Calla Haynes grew up in Toronto and moved to New York to attend the Parsons School of Design. Upon arriving in Paris more than a decade ago, she began working at Rochas and Nina Ricci, finessing her textile and print design skills while absorbing the savoir-faire unique to French luxury houses.
In 2015, Calla decided to focus her attention on collaborations with diverse and high-end brands around the world. This collaborative spirit inspired her to seek out artisans in Morocco to explore the space between European Luxury and Berber Craft. The result is "The Boucharouite Project."
August Women sat down with the designer to chat about the Boucharouite Project and Sustainable Design.
AW: Can you tell us more about the Boucharouite Project?
CH: The Boucharouite Project focusses on two key themes of Sustainable Design - recycling textiles and supporting traditional craft. This includes a collection of rugs made in collaboration with female weavers, and a collection of Babouche slippers handmade in the souk of Marrakesh using upcycled vintage Berber rugs.
AW: What about the Berber craft inspired you to start designing with it?
CH: Berber rug making is a beautiful art form. I’m inspired by its resourcefulness and tradition. It is knowledge passed mother to daughter - usually practiced at home. I love the use of colour and texture and the spontaneity of the designs.
AW: How did you decide to start designing footwear?
CH: After traveling to Morocco to develop boucharouite rugs, I fell in love with so many vintage rugs. The idea came to me to use vintage rugs that were too worn to be used as floor coverings anymore and give them a second life as shoes!
Marrakesh is an amazing city full of talented craftspeople and while babouches is a very traditional shoe there, making them out of Boucharouite rugs was a new twist on a classic.
AW: Can you describe the design and manufacturing process?
CH: We have developed 4 styles with a few more coming out next season with our shoemaker in Marrakesh. We have an amazing production manager that handles logistics. He searches the market for rugs and through WhatsApp (as travel isn’t really possible right now), we select together rugs to buy and make into babouches. Leather is sourced from local herders. When the shoes are made, they are shipped to Paris for quality control and packaged for the client.
AW: Tell us why supporting traditional craft and recycling textiles is so important to you and the future of design.
CH: Supporting traditional craft and reducing waste by recycling textiles are 2 pillars of sustainability in fashion.
Having worked over 15 years in luxury fashion, I saw the amount of textile waste being produced and wanted to find solutions to fight that. I’ve always been drawn to handwork - be it haute couture embroiderers in Paris or granny quilters in the United States. They are beautiful traditions that need to be kept alive. They empower the craftspeople (very often women).
I’ve always found Boucharouite rugs - essentially “Rag Rugs” - beautiful and decided to seek out weavers to upcycle my own fabric archive. It’s now grown into recuperating fabric from luxury houses all across Europe. I’m happy to supply the weavers with beautiful material. It’s an amazing collaboration where we can inspire each other.
Recycling vintage rugs that have already had a life as a floor covering is just another way to contribute to a circular economy.
Photography: Mari Shimmura