Strike a balance between handmade in India and 'Make in India'
As the pandemic rages on, fashion designers from the industry discuss ways in which the handloom industry can survive and face the challenge.
The handloom industry was always sidelined prior to the pandemic. It's time that we make the 'Make in India' concept a reality and start working towards making sustainable handlooms our strength. If we encourage it and make efforts to increase production, then sustainability will follow suit. Everyday apparels, lifestyle products and home furnishings can be made from handloom fabrics and materials. This will vary from product to product and its uses.
What will definitely survive these pandemic times is the clothing range that falls in the range of sustainable and classic fashion. Our consumers will be compelled to shop for items that stand the test of time, last longer-clothes that they can reuse and those that become trans-seasonal classics. It will be about educating the buying audience that handloom can be as "fashionable" or as enlightening as any other fabric. What needs to change, or rather what should have changed in all these years, is the mindset of the audience buying them. Had it not been for the weavers, the fabrics would not have given shape to our collections, month after month, season after season.
The handloom sector has been integral to Indian textiles, and returning to our roots will herald a revival of the handloom culture. While the world is paving a path towards sustainability, we have an Indian way of life rooted in eco-consciousness, which could enhance the potential of Indian fabrics and help the Indian economy to revive as well. Handloom fabric itself is a sustainable process. The Indian domestic market is huge, and though weavers are not as appreciated as they are abroad, the increased interest will help people understand the value of handloom and the language of retail will change with visionary ideals. This will in turn push designers to make part of their collections truly sustainable and thus align with the current sensibilities about our planet. Handlooms can cater to masses but can become a premium identity as well.
If people choose to buy ethically, then we can see handloom being able to support the fashion industry. Responsibly made handloom is a luxury product. A fabric where the weaver gets a fair share is expensive. Unless people who can support the industry can come together, handlooms will cater to a small niche of luxe shoppers, not the masses. When designers are able to work ethically, we need a customer base that is both aware and able to afford and nurture that ecosystem.
Published on: 16/07/2020
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.