With Indian Textiles taking a centre stage, OSHIN FERNANDES and ANKIETA KARNANI, talk to various designers to get an insight into what makes it so desirable.
With Indian Designers such as Rahul Mishra, followed by Suket Dhir consecutively making a mark by acquiring the Woolmark Prize, Indian looms have become something of a fashionable discourse now. Since 2012, Lakmé Fashion Week has a dedicated line up of shows that are concentrated on sustainable fashion and weavers looms. Generally these textiles were attributed to traditional occasions, but now, designers are reinventing the same textiles into modern silhouettes, or, implementing the same art form into contemporary patterns.
Designer duo Jaya and Ruchi, whose brand Indigene, focuses on the complex ajrak technique, only that their motifs are inspired by decorated walls of Burkina Faso in Africa – a modern twist to an age old method. They state that “I think everybody is loving Indian Textiles now, it’s come back to everybody’s notice, we’ve always worked on our traditional fabrics, we love the cottons and the silks, they really make the most wearable clothes anywhere, they’re the best.”
Swati & Sunaina, who use pure zari in their collection that pays tribute to a wearer’s effortless and harmonious incarnation, of ‘Radha’, state that when it comes to young designers who want to explore Indian Fabric, the challenge does not lie in only in the aesthetic endeavour, but, it also has to do with building up on the weavers confidence. They state, “Keep working, keep experimenting, they have to go back to what was being made, the sky is the limit. But they have to maintain perseverance, the weavers now are not very keen to do it because they’ve had bad experiences in the past, you need to work with them and build their trust.”
The process does not only end with the production of the pieces, the designers also focus on wearability. As Anand Kabra, who is known for his is cutting edge figuration, aptly states,
“We do use our Indian weaves, however when you disconnect with its history and the legacy that it holds, that’s when magic happens, for me Indian fabric needs to be taken at the next level to make it more relevant, more modern and to make sure even a sixteen year old wears it with pride, and that will happen only when you treat it as a part of fashion and not as a legacy.”
Acclaimed and seasoned designer Wendell Rodricks also states that “create fusion so that it becomes internationally wearable”.
Apart from the glitz and glamour that comes with fashion, models and flashlights, these fabrics also have an important socio-political role to play. Bina Rao of Creative Bee talks about Sustainability in Fashion and Textiles with Handloom which is eco friendly and meant for all. She emphasizes up cycling as somebody’s trash can become somebody’s treasure. She states that, it’s important to provide dignity and fare wages to weavers and continue the process of non-stop work.
Keeping the method of up cycling in the forefront, Designer Paromita Banerjee uses waste fabrics for footwear, bags, stoles, buttons and tassels to complete the look. She does not agree with the idea that Indian Fabrics are a trend or a fad. She states, “I have always been a supporter of Indian fabric since handlooms have always been a part of Indian fashion vocabulary.”
Rinku Sobti’s brand ‘Loom 1905’ is a thought inspired by the Swadeshi movement, her focus is on Varanasi weaves, also states, “Hand weaving is going everywhere and we have woken up to the fact that weaves need to be preserved for good. Our dynamics of trade are changing and as a businesswoman I may not be able to compete with a country as good as China, so I might as well use what I have in my own country which will provide more work opportunities and is more sellable.”
Weather its fashion, fad, or, the idea of heirlooms, Indian Textiles are here to stay and grow in terms of dialogue, market, and, wearability. With young designers creating an array of interesting twists to the sensibility of the fabric, modern outlines and a process driven approach, the market for these pieces are consumed by a younger chicer and more informed, socially driven audience.