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Designers cotton up to other fabrics
Muskaan Sharma discovers Kutchi kala at the show Textiles India
Amid all the blitz surrounding khadi, indigenous fabrics from all over India are deprived of the recognition they rightfully deserve. With diverse spinning equipment and unique weaving patterns combined with authentic motifs, regional Indian handloom textiles have a distinct role to play in the authentic textile scenario of today. With the inception of technical mills and looms, the sacred artistry behind these traditional textiles has been lost over time.
Gujarat’s Kutch is home to one such forgotten textile — the Kutch kala cotton. Chaman Lal Premji Siju, an artisan from Gujarat, who comes from a long legacy spanning 11 generations of weavers, works to redefine his family’s artistry. His Kutch kala cotton sarees were exhibited during the curtain raiser for Textiles India 2017, which celebrated fabrics from various regions of India. Talking about the importance of promoting indigenous artisans, Premji said, “Our fabric is hand-spun from the cotton grown locally. We as artisans always had the support of the government but this new spin on using indigenous materials to create unique fashion creations is a great initiative to uplift the artisans working with traditional textiles and handlooms.”
Kutch kala cotton is somewhat coarse and is the livelihood of 4,000 farmers. The extraction process of Kala cotton fibre is tedious and the weaving procedure extremely challenging. These factors account for the low demand of this fibre in the textile industry. The weavers working with this fibre choose to use hand-spinning looms over technical mills to preserve the authenticity of the fabric. These shortcomings have led to the stagnation of its production process.
Apart from the kala cotton, other fabrics like tussar silk, Malkha cotton, handloom Assam silk and Andhra Mangalgiri cotton were also highlighted in the hope of developing genuine interest among the masses.
The Crafts Village of Delhi’s Crafts Museum witnessed a vibrant and lavish fashion show with the red brick path transforming itself into a ramp for models wearing creations of renowned fashion designers of India. The cascading canopies of trees under the night sky contrasted well with shifting amber lights bathing the show area in their warm, golden glow. A magnificent, lush banyan tree served as the centrepiece for the runway models to maneuver themselves gracefully around it exhibiting the finest works in handloom and traditional textiles of India.
Regional embroidery styles also found a place in the show with chikankari, Kutchi, Kashmiri and zardozi embroidery. Printed textiles, using printing methods ranging from traditional Andhra double ikats and Bagh handblock prints, to more mechanised and modern digital printing methods, also spun beautiful fabrics for the runway. Contrasting the mosaic of traditional designs, futuristic textiles were displayed with special emphasis on recycled and up-cycled varieties.
Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani said, “Whether it is hand-woven textile or technically produced textile, the textile sector in our country is diverse. This curtain raiser was a small representation of this diverse industry where some of India’s finest fashion designers and regional artisans shared the same stage. The textile industry is recognisably one of the largest industries in the country with a huge employability potential and Textiles India 2017 will pave the way towards achieving that potential.”
FDCI president Sunil Sethi said, “Handloom has as much a scope in fashion as any mechanised form of textile. Handloom has a niche but it can appeal to the masses too. The hard work that goes into each creation of handloom is unique in its own and that is the true essence of it.”
Designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who was also present at the event, urged budding fashion designers in India to experiment with handloom. “Discover India in its true spirit of traditional handlooms and artistry and take pride in knowing what it represents”, he said.
Photo: Pankaj Kumar
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