The ‘gamcha’ is traditionally a rectangular piece of cloth worn over the shoulder or tied around the waist by workers, labourers and the common man. It serves the purpose of a towel. It is used all over the country but is referred to as ‘gamcha’ in West Bengal and Orissa. Saris based on the ‘gamcha’ pattern are catching up in popularity even across the city.
Ally Matthan along with Kausalya Satyakumar and Apoorva Sadanand established ‘The Registry of Sarees’ with a belief in sustaining traditional skills and livelihoods. They believe that social change starts with knowledge creation. Deeply influenced by the different histories, skills, expertise, cultures and the artisan weavers who create every single sari, they set out to educate themselves by knocking on the doors of specialists in different areas of India’s beloved drape, the sari.
Ally says, “The purpose is to set up languishing looms and weaver engagement programmes which directly benefit the weavers as they sell to customers directly. Secondly, we organise learning events so that people can learn about and engage in the wonderful heritage of Indian weaves. Textile specialists teach us by sharing their expertise. Our patrons are invited to be a part of these sessions.”Their Gamcha project came to fruition in April 2016 and the response they received was highly positive. The saris received much appreciation and were sold out really fast.
Rama Ananth, a customer, bought 2 ‘gamcha’ saris. “I had worn it once and got lots of compliments for the sari. I have not yet got the falls and the blouse stitched and wore it with a blouse I already had. The vibrant drape sat really well on me. I am happy that I picked them up.”
Ally also asserts that each ‘gamcha’ sari has a story rooted in the artistry and skills passed down from the master weaver to his apprentice.
“Each piece takes its own time to get woven — from a month upto 3 years. Many of them are daily wear saris and are very comfortable.”
Pragathi Ajay, a Bengaluru-based fashion designer, highlights, “This is a traditional sari and can be draped either the South Indian way or in the dhoti style. Since the saris are very colourful, the blouse can be kept simple and plain. Full neck, half neck or full-sleeve blouses will suit best. Antique silver accessories go well with these types of saris. Long necklaces and ‘jhumkas’ can provide a modern touch.”
Geetanjali Rai, a 24-year- old fashion analyst, explains, “The texture of the material is rather unique and it looks elegant. I came across the style on social media and decided to add it to my wardrobe. Accessorising with this sari won’t be hard because its simple and at the same time, vibrant.”