August 10, 2020 Asmita Aggarwal


A salute to the quiet warriors of handlooms — artisans, as they add a human touch to our otherwise assembly line wardrobes, in a soulful celebration of handloom month

by Asmita Aggarwal

Fashion always, they say tells a story, a tale of not just two but many cities. And no one can narrate, these epics better than woven fabrics.

As India grapples with the deadly virus, what has become clear is the need for resuscitating the multi ethnic yet borderless weaves of India. Many Indian designers, have worked with various clusters, over the years to create a blueprint for the future.

Design intervention has been the mainstay of handlooms, as it brings to fore the need for invention and this can be seen in the myriad experiments with Kota Doria, Bagru, chanderi, and some style masters have included layering to give ensembles a valuable appeal.

Banarasi pant suits, Ikat jumpsuits, breezy capes, chanderi bomber jackets, flouncy silks, reversible jackets in Kerala cotton, and fresher motifs as well as patched fluidity, interlaced with heady graphics, each offering, gave the discerning customer, the option of mixing and matching with lucid separates.

Succinct water lily, paisleys, Kutchi checks and Maheshwar stripes, humble rickshaws, parrots and sparrows as well as fort imagery has added whimsical to the vocabulary of textiles, and marked an unadulterated Bohemia, in an otherwise stiff repertoire.

Masterful construction with woven prowess creates an interesting palette for a young audience that is looking for both malleability and adventure in their new-age choices. Whether it’s the endearing Bandhini, blending yarns in Banarasi or invigorating real zari, concepts have been many and acceptance wide.

Jamdani, Pochampally, organic cotton, exquisite brocades,  Bhagalpur silk,  everything has seen a metamorphosis, giving historical fabrics with a cultural edge a new avatar. Western sensibilities with a local soul is the new mantra, which is now gaining momentum, proving to be a labour of love.

Print, woven or dyed and even embroidered, what lies beneath the surface is pure magnificence in terms of technique, as handmade textiles are simply an austere canvas, each designer paints on with their hues of imagination.

Handlooms unlike most of modern fashion is not trend centric and the current health crisis has paved the way for functional classics which have a timeless appeal. The fulcrum remains twisting the existing template resulting in unpredictable patterns and texturisation in a softer dispensation making way for a slower approach to fashion.

Interestingly, many designers have adopted clusters generating both income and employment all year round, allowing them to  stay in their village and use their skills effectively.

Fashion can bring about a social and economic change, and if alliances are formed with weavers and artisans, a network of originality can be developed to bring about a revolution in the way, we consume fashion.

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