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Kannur's handloom weavers opting for e-commerce
Jun '17
Handloom weavers of Kannur, a Kerala district known for quality handloom, are mounting the bogey of e-commerce in a big way - they have started selling products including shirts with traditional designs through e-commerce giants like Amazon. The sector has been in crisis due to lack of demand among the new generation and lack of marketing avenues.

The district administration has initiated steps to help the handloom sector regain its reputation. Weavers are being trained in creating attractive designs and the administration is helping them tie up with e-commerce giant Amazon to start with to get a wider and direct market for their products, an agency report said.

The “Cannloom” brand products including men’s formal shirts in cotton and linen and with traditional designs of Kerala’s popular martial art “Kalaripayattu” and “Theyyam” (a popular ritual form of worship of North Kerala) and cotton dhotis are already being sold on Amazon, according to the report.

District Collector Mir Muhammed Ali said “Cannloom” brand with shirts having “Kalari” and “Theyyam” designs, went online on May 14, 2017 on Amazon and the response had been encouraging. Presently, 80 weavers and workers of Kuthuparamba Weavers Cooperative Society had gone online with the two products while 16 other weavers’ societies had completed training at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) and would launch their products soon online.

Launching the products on a major platform like Amazon was an unexplored territory and a first by a weavers’ society in the state, Ali told a news agency.

“We started by designing attractive handloom bags and as we moved on we wanted to combine looms and lores of the region and thought of taking “Kalaripayattu” and “Theyyam” motifs, which are part of Kannur’s tradition,” he said. Each shirt has a unique tag, which means each product was one of its kind.

There are plans to bring sarees, towels and bags with unique traditional designs of Kannur online, he said. While “Theyyam” shirt is pure handwoven linen priced at Rs 2,000, the “Kalari” shirt costs Rs 1,500 and ordinary handloom shirt, Rs 1,200.

“We are in talks with Amazon to reduce their fees which will cut prices by 10-12 per cent,” he said.

So far, the handloom products were being sold across the counter with sales being significant only during the festival seasons of Onam and Christmas. The new endeavour will help remove middlemen with benefits going directly to society’s weavers, the report said.

According to Kuthuparamba Weavers Cooperative Society secretary Sujesh, products worth Rs 15,000 have already been sold by selling through Amazon. “There is good demand for the products and weavers have realised that with changing times and habits, there is need to incorporate new designs to attract more customers,” he said. There are also plans to sell products through Flipkart and Myntra.

Anusree, who is designing the products, said efforts were on to launch Theyyam-inspired sarees, cotton dhoties with traditional printed borders of Theyyam and Kalari. “We are in the process of doing a complete collection of shirts, dhoties, and sarees of ‘Theyyam’ and ‘Kalari’ designs by Onam,” she said. Work on some 120 shirts had been completed. Initially, the weavers were hesitant with the new ideas, but with enquiries pouring in, things were changing, the 25-year-old designer who has passed out of National Institute of Design, Mumbai, said and added there were plans to incorporate printed shirts with contemporary motifs like wifi symbols to attract youngsters. (SV)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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