No two ways about the fact that all of just loooooveeee Kareena wala designer lehenga and Deepika Padukone’s sheer wedding saree. As much as we love the sheer brilliance of all the designer offerings by some of our finest designers, few of us also tend to look into what goes behind the scenes. Well, there is more to the brilliant array of runway outfits and all that pizzazz–a certain sense of gratitude exhibited by a certain crop of designers who are constantly working to revive India’s handloom industries.
From the traditionally designed textiles offered by the design house of Sabyasachi to the more contemporary and global versions created by Payal Khandwala, these handloom connoisseurs are busy weaving a tale of pride and beauty nestled in their unyielding reverence for all that’s indigenous. At the heart of their love for handloom lies a certain passion to revive most of these forgotten arts and also, a will to help the Indian artisanal communities survive. Intrigued to find out about these Indian designers who have taken upon themselves to revive and popularise Indian handlooms? Read on:
Fashion designer and textile revivalist Gaurang Shah is known for putting unique spins to traditional weaves. He works with a number of textiles including Kanchi-Kalamkari, Khadi-Kanchi, Organza-Kanch, Tussar-Kanchi, and Patan Patola. The first Indian designer to showcase Kanjeevarams at a national level, he is also widely known for his revival of the Jamdani weaver community.
One of the pioneers behind the Indian handloom industry’s revival, Ritu Kumar is known for her work in Matka silk, handwoven Bhagalpuri fabrics, and hand-block printing. She came out with her ‘Banaras Revival Project’ in 2016 with an aim to explore the endangered art of silk and cotton weaving in Varanasi.
Rahul’s work heavily revolves around indigenous weaves and traditional fabrics, Banarasi silk, Chanderi, Daraz work, and Kerala’s cotton handloom cloth being the major ones. For his Lakme Fashion Week debut, he used the Kerala handloom fabric to make dresses and trousers that could be worn inside out. He is known for experimenting with Chanderi, Khadi, and Ikat for his haute couture creations.
Back in 1996, Madhu Jain reintroduced the Dhaka Muslin to India, a delicate weave that we had otherwise lost to partition. A textile conversationalist, she is known for revamping various Indian weaves and coming up with unique blends like the Uzbek-inspired Ikat. As a revivalist, she also aims to popularise bamboo as a textile in the country.
With a brand that has become synonymous with the poetic beauty of handloom silks, Sanjay Garg of Raw Mango has played a vital role in textiles such as brocade, Chanderi, and Mashru.
Known for their work in handloom, Abraham & Thakore experiment with a number of Indian textiles including Mangalgiri, Jamdani, and Banarasi brocades. However, it is the black and white Ikat design that happens to be their signature style. Right from Gujarat’s Patan Patola and its double Ikat to Odisha’s unique Ikat, the duo has played a huge part in popularising this resist dyeing technique.
Besides her celebrated gota-patti lehengas, Anita Dongre is also known for her Banarasi brocade sarees. In collaboration with NGOs like the SEWA Trade Facilitation Centre, Dongre is closely working with independent groups of artisans.
For designer and textile revivalist Sailesh Singhania, the philosophy of preserving textile art and their revival goes beyond than just being a part of his profession. It is a full-fledged passion for the designer who has been with Indian handloom artisans for more than two decades now.
He works with over 700 handloom weavers across the country and supports various clusters of artisans including Pranpur, Uppada, Pochampally, Gadwal, Kota, and Pranpur to help them with a decent livelihood through weaving.
By giving a contemporary makeover to the traditional handlooms, not only is Payal Khandwala reviving the Indian handloom textiles but also making them lucrative in the most millennial sense of the word. Eccentric and colour-blocked, her label has been producing textiles that have a truly global appeal. Instead of working with the artisans on a season to season basis, at her label, it’s ensured that the artisans earn a sustainable livelihood while their healthcare and other basic needs are also taken care of.
Inspired by the Nobel pursuit undertaken by these designers? Show your support for their endeavours in India handloom textiles and crafts once the lockdown is over. As the current pandemic brings down the fashion industry, it is our artisans who are going to have it worst in the long run. Extend a helping hand to them and invest in handlooms post lockdown.
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