Our fully escorted tours help to support artisan communities in South India and are a great way to share your love of textiles with like minded travellers.
We’ll take you on a South Indian journey of textile discovery that’s unique, life affirming, and promotes thoughtful travel. Enjoy your holiday more with us, knowing that you are helping others.
We know that many textile lovers are eager to explore the wealth of textiles in India and experience the colour and vibrancy of Indian culture, but feel a little overwhelmed by the thought of travelling there independently. We are unique in the UK in offering fully escorted small group textile tours to South India.
We give our travellers a gentle introduction to this little known region on our tours. We think you’ll love South India’s chilled ambience which is very different to the hustle and bustle of North India, both in its people and culture. Our small friendly groups enable you to feel at ease exploring this diverse and incredible land of palms and paddy fields, tea and spices, rain forest, mountains, beaches and backwaters.
Our company founder Sally Mason has been travelling to South India for the past eight years to research the richness of its textile heritage and culture. She decided to set up Textile Travels both to share her passion for hand made Indian textiles and with a desire to raise the profile of these special fabrics and the skilled artisans who produce them.
Sally’s background is in costume making and designing for theatre and television in the UK. To date she is a freelance Costume Designer for the BBC which enables her to devote time to leading her Indian tours between contracts.
Her thirty year career working with costume spans many genres and periods. Whatever the brief, it’s the textiles that informs her work and influences the way she styles the character. It’s this ingrained passion for textiles allied to a love of travel and adventure that brought her to discover the handloom tradition of South India and want to to share it with other textile lovers.
A chance encounter with a small handloom workshop in North Kerala on her first trip to India originally fired Sally’s interest in hand woven textiles. From the first sound of the gentle click-clack of the looms from the lane outside, to the skill and speed of the weavers, she was hooked.
Through subsequent explorations to track down textile artisans on her frequent research trips, Sally connected with many talented and skilled artisans and became passionate about sharing the beauty and integrity of their work with others.
Hand loom weaving in India is under threat of extinction due to mass production of textiles outpricing hand made slow fabrics. But the demand for sustainability globally opens a window of opportunity to revive hand loom in India. However, it can only happen if a premium price is achieved for the unique and special fabric that’s created to give the weavers a living wage, by widening its appeal and creating new markets for the product.
The potential is there to provide creative, skilled employment for village communities, helping to halt the exodus of the young to the big cities, and keeping communities intact. Sally felt she could help to keep these sustainable skills alive by sharing her passion and raising awareness among other textile lovers through textile tours.
The effects of the pandemic on artisans livelihoods has been catastrophic. When weaving, spinning and dyeing communities returned to production, some weavers just couldn’t afford to return, while some are too old to continue. At the same time, no educated young people are willing to go into such a low wage occupation, however creative it may be.
Despite the low value placed on hand made textiles in the past, a new awareness is growing of these heritage skills. As a new appreciation develops in India of how hand made textiles can contribute to a sustainable future for rural communities in India, the importance of promoting and developing these weaving communities was never more relevant.
When you join us on one of our tours, as well as enjoying an unforgettable holiday, you’ll be helping to raise the profile of these communities, adding value to their products and helping to regenerate thoughtful tourism in South India.
To work toward this aim, 5% any of our profits will be added to our artisans fund to help with promotion and development for our artisan partners in South India.