From Rajasthan’s Kota Doira to Odisha’s tussar silk sarees, the stage will also be celebrating women spinners and weavers.
Over the last few decades, Indian fashion designers have made their mark in the global market with their sartorial designs. But now, designers and entrepreneurs are looking to showcase fabrics and weaves that are an intrinsic part of India’s heritage, thereby encouraging sustainability. The idea behind the sustainable movement is to make the fashion industry more socially responsible by helping the artisans and weavers who work on traditional themes. In its seventh year, the upcoming edition of Lakme Fashion Week will celebrate such indigenous crafts and artisans through a series of curated shows that seeks collaboration between skilled artisans and innovative designers from around the country.
Since 2012, there have been constant efforts in bringing to fore craftsmen and their work and the upcoming edition of the fashion week will see handwoven fabrics from Rajasthan and Odisha, intricate khadi weaves, Kanjivaram and ecological fibres.
Designer Karishma Shahani Khan who will be presenting the work of Kota Women Weavers Organisation from Rajasthan has picked Kota Doria - a fine fabric made of a blend of silk and cotton, to showcase her designs. “Predominantly made by women, the fabric is sheer and light in nature despite using a lot of zari work. But over a period of time, it has lost its place in textile list,” says Karishma whose label Ka-Sha along with Craftmark has given a modern twist to this traditional piece of fabric that's mainly used for saree or dress. “For instance, a stitch saree dress can be worn during the day or at an event. The clothes have to be contextual to our functional lives and I have tried to give it more shape, forms, and technique that you wouldn’t see in this textile, inherently.
We have worked with the traditional motif but with a slightly modern twist, like polka dots but with zari and their traditional white colours,” explains Karishma. The designer describes Kota Doria as a fabric with a very translucent qualy yet not fragile. “It’s a simple fabric but with an interesting grid pattern—that’s its trademark. The best thing about the fabric is, you can wear it in any season,” she smiles. From deep indigo blue to pastel mint green, Karishma has used a colour palate of eight to nine colours along with a lot of white and silver zari.
From Rajasthan’s Kota Doira to Odisha’s tussar silk sarees, the stage will also be celebrating women spinners and weavers. Inspired by the Chausat Yogini Temple, the 64 tantric female deities of Odisha, designer Gunjun Jain’s Yogini collection celebrates womanhood representing varied expressions of modern-day Yoginis through handwoven sarees styled in experimental drapes teamed with workwear blouses.
Her designs will have a special focus on Odisha and will introduce hand woven khadi textures and fabrics. Using regional traditional techniques of Ikat and Jala, the couturier has given a contemporary language to the classic temple border of ‘kumbha’ by reinterpreting it in different ways. “We tried to re-capture the curvilinear ikats and have worked on a range of Ikat textiles known for their intricate and fine lines, almost like thin pencil drawings,” says Gunjan adding that her designs also narrates the story of a 500-year-old textile tree between Odisha and South East Asia.
This year will also see digitally driven designer-artisan collaboration with three clusters and designers. While brands such as Indigene and THREE have collaborated with weavers from in Odisha and Bihar, designers such as Naushad Ali will present a collection of handloom trench coats, trousers, dresses and jumpsuits made by the Musiri weavers in Tiruchirappalli. “Musiri is well known for good quality cotton, predominantly used for saree,” says Naushad who explains how he epicycles the traditional materials. “We don’t use the material or the fabric as it is as our aim is to have customers buy and wear it. For instance, gold plays an important role in the saree down south and is usually seen on the borders. Keeping the same quality as the base fabric, we have removed the borders and put gold throughout the fabric in simple checks,” explains Naushad who has also done a lot of layering, trench coats, and bold jackets.
From rural West Bengal, Eka by Rina Singh is presenting hand spun and woven textile using the technique of ‘Kata Makur Kaj’, as called in rural Bengal or ‘Cut Shuttle’ in layman language. “We have done a cut shuttle technique which was earlier used in saree borders but not anymore as it is time-consuming and is expensive. But it is so interesting that I have increased the weight of the fabric in khadi, done a cut shuttle where I have done a colour contrast. We have also used woodblock in chintz print on the fabric,” says Rina whose collection also features Sojani embroidery from Kashmir on woolen dresses, khadi, and linen.
But, how viable is our sustainable fashion market? Experts believe that fashion is no longer just about trends and innovative designs, it is also a means to encourage dialogue on sustainable choices. Naushad further explains that with sustainable fabric, a weaver can only make 1.5meters a day. “The process is much slower, time-consuming and we work for four months on creating the fabric. It is but obvious for the fabric to be expensive. It is not expensive because of its sustainability, but because of the process that is involved,” he says. Karishma seconds his opinion and adds that one needs to understand where the product is coming from. “A lot of effort goes into making a fabric giving an end product so pure that it can't be replicated by a machine. It is handmade and the amount of human hours it takes is precious. It moves through multiple hands and not a machine,” she stresses.