It is no news that India is home to the largest repository of weaving techniques and traditional handlooms that are still striving to keep the dying art form alive. Home to nearly 136 unique weaves, the country’s handloom sector is looking at a grim future forced by the pandemic and a shift in the market towards imported textiles and the exploding fast fashion industry.
The recent year has however seen the emergence of several homegrown fashion labels that are going back to the roots by reviving dying art forms and handlooms by presenting them to a niche audience with a higher purchasing power. By creating powerful narratives around the history of the technique and translating that storytelling into fashion, here are the homegrown labels on our radar that are reviving traditional Indian weaves.
Kerala is home to one of the oldest handloom Indian weaving communities based in the rural towns of Chendamangalam and Kuthampally. The prominence of the Chendamangalam saree is well renowned however, the recent years have caused significant damage to the community in terms of their survival and their remuneration and business. Keeping this in mind, Kerala-based designer Sreejith Jeevan created Rouka, a label that rethinks the purpose of the saree. Breaking it out of its mould of being simply traditional wear into creating designs that can be worn to work, parties and more, Jeevan directly works with the local artisans to produce vibrant, contemporary silhouettes that are hard to miss.
The name, translating to ‘real India’, aims to bring back India’s long-forgotten weaves that disappeared along with India’s deep-rooted colonial struggle. Specialising in the ‘madras checkered’ weave, this lost art form was exported to West Africa in the 18th century. The brand’s aesthetic, which highlights the simplicity of modern living, aims for breathable, minimalistic designs that are wearable both at home and outdoors.
There is a new wave of homegrown labels revisiting the use, power and simplicity of khadi. Innovating on its endless aesthetic and organic value, this Delhi-based label uses organic indigo dyes and melds them into their cotton blend Khadi clothing which represents a part of India’s forgotten heritage and culture.
One can say that secrets, stories, history, and even culture can be woven into clothes. A Meghalaya-based fashion label is quite literally translating this idea into a reality. Taking the rich history and age-old folk tales that helped shape Meghalaya’s culture, Kiniho by Ibalarihun Mallai is a label that is bringing together a distinct intersection of art, history, and sustainability.
If you enjoyed reading this, we also suggest: