Our products are hand embroidered by artisans in Lucknow, and produced by a family owned factory in Kolkata, India.
Aftab, one of the finest hand-embroidery artisans is our master embroiderer and supervisor who oversees our expanding network of workshops. He has over forty years experience in a variety of hand-embroidery techniques including “zardozi” (metal thread) and “aari” (hooked needle) and is responsible for successfully diversifying the craft from its traditional motifs to the cutting-edge sensibility and exacting standards of Complete Unknown. He is also an expert at hand-drawn “khakas” (tracing-paper designs) that are used to create the imprints upon which the embroidery is made. Aftab’s family has engaged in the craft for generations and he was taught the basics by Raja, his elder brother. He lives with his wife and four children in Lucknow and has trained and mentored two generations of craftsmen.
We have partnered with Aftab Warsi, and his family-owned factory in Kolkata, India, to produce our handbags. Aftab is a young entrepreneur who is passionate about craftsmanship and sustainable production methods. He learned the intricate skills of making luxury handbags from his father, at an early age. In order to achieve the highest standards that machines cannot always guarantee, most of the steps in the production of our non-leather bags are executed solely by hand, by skilled artisans who are trained by Aftab to create products with the most exacting attention to design and quality. His ,knowledge and experience come through in everything we make.
Lucknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh, India, was the last bastion of the Mughal empire and still is one of its centers of art and culture. The city is famous for its hand embroidery techniques including the “chikankari”, “zardozi” and “”aari” styles. The craft had its golden age during the 60s and 70s when the remainingroyal families of the state were patrons of the arts and ceremonial dress was usually embellished by exquisite hand embroidery. The families engaged in embroidery have inherited the craft from their ancestors whose lineage can be traced to the 17th century when the Mughal kings ruled India.
Over the years the lack of government support and rapid proliferation of cheaper, less artful machine embroidery has driven traditional craftspeople into poverty and forced the majority of them to take up alternative livelihoods. All of our embroidery is produced in Lucknow by these “karigars” (expert craftsman) who would otherwise be unemployed. The assembly and finishing of our products is done in Calcutta, West Bengal, another center of culture and artisanship, and one of the most historic and populous cities in India. Our production unit originally specialized in leather goods and over three years has been re-trained to work with non-animal materials. All products are made using highly skilled manufacturing techniques and rigorous quality control standards.
Complete Unknown products are hand embroidered, sewn and assembled by artisans. We are resuscitating an industry that has produced some of the most sophisticated works of embroidery for the attire of kings and adorned walls of royal tents, scabbards, wall hangings, and the paraphernalia of regal elephants and horses. We are proud to support a vanishing craft and create products of extreme beauty that hark back to a kind of luxury that is unique, enduring and sustainable.
Our handbags are made of non-leather, cruelty free materials, sourced from Italy and India. All zippers are sourced from Japan. The spikes are made of brass in a family owned factory in Kolkata, India. All embroidery raw materials are bought in local markets in India.