Provenance has long been the “it” word in the art world. Tracing the ownership history of a work of art is essential to understanding the historical, social, and economic context of the piece. This interest in the origin of things has extended well beyond the art world to the culinary realm—farm-to-table and slow-food movements—and now, it seems, to the fashion world. From the petites mains at 31 rue Cambon making Chanel’s haute couture in Paris, to the practised eye of the leather controller at the Louis Vuitton atelier in Sarras, France, consumers want to know the story behind the brand.
Enter H Project at Holt Renfrew, a curation of unique products with stories to match, led by Alexandra Weston, Holt Renfrew’s director of brand strategy. The H Project includes apparel, accessories, home decor items, and beauty products all offering interesting tales that highlight the craft and culture of artisans from around the world. “I believe there is an ageless demographic that wants to know where their things are from, wants to know who touched them, and wants to know how they were made,” says the H Project ambassadress. And the project is just that, a shop-in-shop with products that focus on culture, craft, and global artisans.
This season Weston collaborated with Waris Ahluwalia, founder of House of Waris, to uncrate the diversity of India. “We sought to explore the artisanal depth and discover the extraordinary products of the country and tell their extraordinary stories within our H Project shops,” says Weston. “We partnered with Waris as he truly embodies the romance, vibrant culture, and sophistication of India.”
Weston and Ahluwalia journeyed through India, visiting Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, and Mandawa and selected products, from block-print textiles and batik silk scarves to hand-woven rugs and precious gemstones. The pieces are available as part of an Uncrate India collection within Holt Renfrew’s H Project shops across Canada.
“The Uncrate concept came from honing in on the artisanal element of things,” says Weston. The H Project was launched just over a year ago and the pop-up Uncrate India is in activation until the end of May. “Each year we will go into a culture that still relies heavily on traditional craft and uncrate it,” she says. “The overarching program is to showcase the authenticity behind a product.”
The next country? A little bird may have told me Africa.