No two are alike

HANDWOVEN BEAUTIES

No two are alike

Every time we go shopping in a store or online, we look at the design, colour and the outlook of the ensemble. Hardly do we give a thought to its making, or dyeing process, or if any harmful chemicals were used, or whether it was ethically made. But things seem to be changing. Slowly, people are becoming aware about the processes involved.

Brands are now combining fashion with a cause. In this time of fast fashion, it is necessary for us to be aware and it looks like social media is the key to spread the word. Social campaigns such as #100sareepact #madebypeople and #wemadeyourclothes not only get the fashion world buzzing, but they also generate curiosity among people.

An intrinsic part

Handwovens have been a part of Indian culture and crafts since the beginning of time. Our finest handwoven cotton and silk used to be exported to many countries around the world. Yet, the weavers in the villages now are struggling to make ends meet. Despite being the second biggest occupation in the country, weavers still have to fight for fair wages. This won’t change and will only get worse, unless we all make small changes in our lives.

Handlooms are losing to the competition of power looms and fast fashion. They cannot be mass produced and it takes days to weave just a single element. Perhaps, this exactly is the beauty of handwoven clothes. No two woven products are the same, simply because it is made completely by hands and not by programmed machines. The unevenness in the weaving, the slubs, the extra line in a motif make a product unique.

It’s time we embrace the beauty and richness of handwovens and support our artisans. The solution is not to completely boycott the mass-produced products; they just need to co-exist. By adding a few handmade pieces to your wardrobe and adapting it in your daily outfits, you can make a huge difference.

An entire wardrobe change is impractical. Start by making small changes. Add a soft handwoven scarf; it is not only a small investment but is versatile enough to be added into any ensemble. Here are some ways to add a handwoven beauty to your wardrobe:

 Work wear: Handlooms don’t have to be only for special occasions. Add a natural-dyed kurta or a dress in neutral colour to your wardrobe. They are not only comfortable, but will also get you into the habit of including more of them in your wardrobe.

 Accessories: A hand-painted or block-printed dupatta is guaranteed to add colour and brightness to your wardrobe. It is one of the versatile pieces, which can be styled in many ways.

 Classics rock: A classic handloom sari is a must-have in every woman’s wardrobe. Do not think twice about investing in one because you will treasure it for a long time.

 Blouses: One can never get tired of contrast blouses with saris. Pair a handwoven blouse with a chiffon sari for a very earthy and effortless look. You can dress it up or keep it plain and simple, depending on the occasion.

 Go organic: Many brands are coming out with shirts made through organic processes. You do not have to stick to ethnic wear only, and these are the best alternative.

 Get to the source: Every weekend one gets to see that there are always flea markets or expos, which showcase exhibitors from all over the country. They are excellent places to get handmade products directly from the artisans. You not only get genuine products, but also meet the artisans who are keen to share the little details that go into the making of a product.

 Gifting choice: When in dilemma as to what to gift for someone special this year, go in for some handmade products; they can be the best bet. On one hand, it shows your thought behind the gesture and on the other, it introduces them to the world of handmade beauties.

 Footwear: The choices in handloom don’t stop at clothes. Block-printed toe-up shoes, kohlapuris, handmade leather shoes, among a host of other choices, make you stand out from the crowd. And they are as comfortable as they are versatile.

 Home decor: It doesn’t have to be only in your wardrobe. There are a lot of options in home decor as well. Painted or printed pillow cases, and handwoven rugs are the popular options. They might be a bit more expensive, but they also last longer and are more comfortable.

Through these small changes, a very significant difference can be made to the artisans all across the villages in India. It definitely boosts their financial income. But it also encourages them to constantly innovate.

(The author is a Bengaluru-based fashion designer)

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