Growing up, every girl dreams of inheriting her mother’s or grandmother’s handloom sarees. But soon we realize that given our lifestyle, these sarees are cumbersome and impractical to wear. Here are 7 talented designers who are bringing to us our indigenous handlooms but in fresh, easy-to-wear forms.
1. Ritu Kumar
Who hasn’t heard of the fashion visionary Ritu Kumar? She has been at the top of the fashion industry for almost 45 years now. She also has been the pioneering force behind reviving India’s handlooms. She has worked with handblock printing, as well as Ahimsa silk and handwoven Bhagalpur fabrics for garments and saris. Her collections like Revivalist and Varanasi Weaves aim at bringing back indian textiles into the mainstream.
A designer from the temple city of Bhubaneswar, Reemly produces ethnic wear with contemporary twists. Her collection Afreen showcased Sambalpuri midi dresses, Ikat print jumpsuits and men’s Nehru jackets with pattachitra motifs. She experiments with Pattachitra which was a traditional art form once limited to religious paintings on temples.
His work towards reviving the Kunbi saree which was an almost extinct saree worn traditionally by the Kunbi tribe in Goa before Portuguese occupation made him famous. He has also closely worked with handwoven silks, khadi cotton, muga, tussar, and organza and redesigned them for ideal summer wear.
A relatively new kid on the block, Zimik uses indigenous textiles of Nagas, the Tangkhul Naga textile in his designs. Nagas are famous for their brilliant reds, greens and blacks. He takes inspiration from his roots and extensively uses the red on his Western wear designs.
5. Gaurang Shah
Gaurang believes that the saree is the most sensuous garment for a woman. He is best known for his work with traditional jamdani weaves. He believes in using eco-friendly techniques like use of natural dyes in giving a modern avatar to our traditional fabrics. He works towards reinventing hand embroidery techniques like Parsi, Kashmiri, Chikankari, Kutch, Kasauti on handloom sarees.
6. Shweta Gupta
Creatively motivated by patterns found in nature, Shweta attempts to bring these into her work by travelling extensively. She feels that Chanderi is the perfect fabric for Indian weather as it’s a perfect blend of cotton and silk. Now, she is experimenting with creating her own yarn with cotton by cotton Chanderi fabric, blending Merino wool with silk and cotton. Her collection at the Lakme Fashion Week Gen Next showcased a contemporary perspective through weaves, with textures inspired from the Himalayan mountains.
7. Rahul Mishra
Rahul’s work heavily draws from traditional weaves and fabrics such as Banarasi silk, chikankari and Kerala’s cotton handloom cloth. At his first Lakme Fashion Week show he used the Kerala handloom fabric to make dresses and trousers that could be worn inside out. Since then, he has experimented with Chanderi, khadi for contemporary wear, and Ikat for Haute couture. His vision is to use handloom fabrics to create modern, everyday outfits.
So what are you waiting for? Go get your handloom on!