Belle Ikat
The timeless beauty of the Ikat culture reinterpreted

Belle Ikat – The timeless beauty of Ikat weaving culture reinterpreted

Belle Ikat revives millennia-old traditions: The German fashion label from Mannheim focuses on the Uzbek Ikat fabric, which is still woven using old techniques, ecologically dyed and fairly traded.

We talked to founder Isabella Stadler about her deep connection to Uzbekistan and the Ikat culture that she embraced with her label.

»To understand and create something valuable, you have to go through the whole process. You have to live it and really understand it.«
Belle Ikat founder Isabella Stadler
Hello Isabella, what did your path look like before you founded Belle Ikat?

I was born in Armenia and grew up in Israel. After studying tourism in Germany, I travelled around the world and brought back numerous finds from markets and bazaars back home. By chance, I visited the International Tourism Fair in Tashkent and discovered the traditional ikat fabrics there.

What can I say, I was immediately totally enchanted. The culture, the craft, the people, everything fascinated me. I took some of these fabrics home but for a few years I couldn’t decide how to use them in the future.

One day I got the idea to try something completely new, took the fabric to my seamstress and had a dress made from it. This way I could combine the special flair of Uzbekistan with the classic Western fashion ideas. And in 2018, I launched Belle Ikat.

How and why did you finally decide to become self-employed?

I am not a classic fashion designer, but rather a creative entrepreneur. As a woman and mother, I want to be a role model for my daughter with Belle Ikat. I wanted to show her that justice and sustainability are a question of personal attitude and not a short-lived fad.

The desire for fashion, beauty and luxury does not have to be at the expense of other people and our environment. Fashion and sustainability go hand in hand.

What makes the ikat weaving technique and culture so special?

I am always looking for other traditions, crafts and cultures that inspire me. I want to show our customers the beauty and diversity of our world’s cultures and let them share in it. Belle Ikat customers wear a piece of cultural history.

The collection from Uzbekistan is inspired by the bright colours in all its wonderful facets. It tells the story of a stylish journey along the Silk Road, in complete freedom through vast landscapes and the life of Uzbekistan’s vibrant cities.

What do you understand by sustainable business and what demands do you have on your business partners and suppliers in terms of sustainability?

Extravagance, high-quality fabrics and unusual design go hand in hand with social responsibility for people and the environment. All the fabrics we use at Belle Ikat are pure natural fibres. We only use linen, silk and cotton. They are free of chemicals and are produced by small manufacturers under fair working conditions.

Our models are unique, mostly hand-sewn, hand-embroidered and sometimes even hand-decorated with ornate painting. This elaborate production takes time and can never be done in large quantities.

What does the design process look like for you?

To understand and create something valuable, you have to go through the whole process. You have to live it and really understand it. After being part of the fabric making process in Margilan dozens of times, I am learning more and more and getting even more understanding of all the possibilities of unique fabrics. I am very grateful to the ikat masters who keep it alive and remain true to their craft.

What are your plans for the future?

New, exciting things are happening almost daily and we just have to see what suits us best and which path is right for us.

There is so much to do and we are looking forward to everything that is coming. I can reveal a little bit, there will also be something nice for home.

Thank you, Isabella!

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