By carrying out research on the origin of the fabrics in Switzerland, we were able to learn that the famous Indians also had great success in this country. In previous articles, we have discussed the popularity of Indian fabrics mainly in France, but in fact, these printed cotton fabrics have aroused great enthusiasm throughout Europe since their appearance. It is thanks to the Portuguese merchants and navigators that the Indians arrive in Europe in the hold of the ships, at first. Then the Dutch printing artisans will begin to reproduce these and open fabric printing workshops. Then, thanks to the various East India Companies of the Netherlands, France and England, the importation of Indians will gain more and more importance. The industry both imports the Indians and begins a process of reproduction and continuous improvement in printing techniques to bring out new styles and designs. The Indians become not only only a manufacture of the Indies, but also an appropriation of Europe in its entirety, due to the enormous enthusiasm they create. Supply does not supply demand.
Switzerland, for its part, played an important role when France decreed the prohibition of Indians.
Some historical facts to situate us in time
Let’s go back in time to reconstruct the events in their time. Arrived in Europe at the end of the 16th century in the holds of Portuguese ships, the calicos aroused unprecedented enthusiasm in most European countries. The popularity of painted canvases from India can be explained: cotton is light, pleasant to wear and easy to maintain. In addition, the Indian being offered in a wide range of qualities, they affect almost all classes of society. Finally, they are appreciated for both clothing and furnishings. However, the arrival on the European market of Indian painted canvas provoked the dissatisfaction of entrepreneurs active in the textile sectors – silk, wool, linen – who saw in it unfair competition.
This resulted in a prohibition in France that lasted more than 70 years, from 1686 to 1759. This prohibition affected both Indian products and their European imitations. The industry will migrate to Switzerland and, from there, return to France.
Switzerland becomes a producing country of Indians during French prohibition
Indeed, Switzerland benefits from the French decision. It welcomed many Huguenots from the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, which preceded the banning of Indians by one year. Among the refugees, some have either the know-how, the capital or the networks necessary for the Indian industry. Installed along the border, from Geneva to Basel via Neuchâtel, their factories were to supply a huge contraband market. Jean-Jacques Rousseau criticizes this proliferation of factories in the country. In a letter written by Môtiers in 1764, he lamented: “Soon, if we want to live, we will have to eat watches and painted canvases, because agriculture is absolutely abandoned for more lucrative arts. »
Fabric printing in Switzerland in modern times
Since the digital age, Switzerland has obviously followed suit and it is now easy to find companies specializing in textile printing, either in screen printing or sublimation or both.
Here are the three (3) most important ones as well as a site that is a directory of fabric printers in Switzerland:
- Buwaprint: https://www.buwaprint.ch/index.php/fr/
- Seritextile: https://www.seritextile.ch/
- Infiniprint: https://www.infiniprinting.ch/Impression-tissus-sublimation-naturel-coton-canton-geneve.html
- Directory of fabric printers in Switzerland: https://www.kouik.ch/suisse/impression-textile/
- An interesting textile museum also exists in Switzerland: https://www.textilmuseum.ch/fr/reve-et-realisation-tissus-de-suisse-orientale/