Hello! Shifra here, back to tell you more about our original prints from last spring’s collection (quickly, before we’ve moved on to this spring!).

The Leaf Puzzle print was one of the first prints I designed for Mata Traders as an intern in the fall of 2011. I had high hopes that it would make the cut for the Fall ’12 collection, but I had to wait until Spring ’13 for it to make its debut.

The story behind this print is interesting because it deals with restrictions. We work with a few fair trade cooperatives in India and Nepal and each has its own limits on what it can produce. A designer might get frustrated by lacking the freedom to create anything her heart desires, however, I love a challenge. By learning how to work within these restrictions and guidelines, my designs get stronger each season.

This particular print was produced in a cooperative where I was only allowed to use two colors in addition to the white of the fabric. In the past, the designs we had created for this cooperative consisted of small amounts of two colors on a whole lot of white background. While that looks nice for one or two pieces of clothing, having too many garments with that color formula gets mundane, so I decided to challenge myself to create a dense print that minimized the amount of white that was visible. From a distance, I wanted the shapes and colors to blur together so that the overall print wouldn’t appear to have any white at all.

Challenge accepted! After playing with a few shapes, overall scale and spacing, I believe my goal was accomplished. I focused on leafy and geometric shapes reminiscent of fabric from the 40’s and 50’s. In two colorways, this print ended up appearing on the Jin Ju Ruffle Dress and the Pagoda Pocket Dress, both currently on sale in our online shop for less than $50! Who says fair trade can’t be affordable?

Learn more about our original prints by exploring all posts from our Behind the Design series.