RETAILER-WEAVER CONNECTION TO UPLIFT HANDLOOM INDUSTRY
WEAVING STORIES OF PROSPERITY
In a country of billions, what has emerged out of the recent health conundrum is the need to be “atmanirbhar”, an emotion that surpasses the human need for acquisitions. Thus, the meteoric rise of the “Made in India” sentiment has captured both the hearts and minds of conscious millennials.
Not surprising then that handlooms are the flavour of the season. After all, the sector employs almost 3.5 million people with each region paying homage to its innate culture through the fabric of freedom. The movement has been gaining popularity over many years, but a noticeable momentum began four years ago, when Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani #iwearhandloom became a sensation on the twitter, where hand spun was celebrated with pride. This renewed the pledge to support and resuscitate the industry, as the blue hand woven silk sari from Bihar, she wore, went viral.
The results were both ingenious and innovative with not just design intervention with the help of leading style gurus, but also a government grant to the textile ministry for providing financial assistance to languishing weavers.
The key is in establishing, a direct connect between retailers and weavers to eliminate the middleman, urging e-commerce giants to pitch in.
The textile industry is dominated by women as they constitute almost 72 per cent and the Textile Minister has offered various schemes like the National Handloom Development Programme to empower them.
Interestingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi besides being an avid supporter of textiles has reiterated the need for foreign investment to create employment as well as skill development. Almost 30 million farmers are part of producing 60 per cent natural fibres in India which is the need of the hour to help boost the GDP. Most importantly, sustainability is setting the new world order.
HANDLOOMS IN YOUNGSTERS’ WARDROBES
India’s population, out of which 50 per cent is below 25, and more than 65 per cent below 35, has embraced this innate message. Whether it is schools or colleges, handlooms have succeeded in marking their presence in youngster’s wardrobes. With a little help from designers who have adopted clusters for Ikkat, Chanderi, Maheshwari among others, or even the rise of Baneras as a hot spot is the sign of the popularity of going eco-friendly. It is frankly, the new cool.
What has further generated interest is the National Crafts Museum and Hastkala Academy, Pragati Maidan, which not just holds meaningful talks on handlooms along with a showcase, but also in-depth, short-term courses for the discerning few who would like to equip themselves with knowledge about handloom/craft and Indian textile traditions.
As we grasp with new realities, the education sector has made strides in incorporating this aesthetic in their curriculum by taking fashion students on trips to clusters. This has opened a plethora of opportunities for them when they enter the real world as they stitch together endearing stories of Indian crafts through their design prowess.
The Fashion Design Council of India, has taken many steps to support handlooms. They initiated on Instagram a series titled “Celebrating the Maker” last month where designers paid homage to handloom weavers that they have been associated with.
Another major thrust has been witnessed at the India Fashion Week where handlooms have been given a place of pride and for many years along with Ministry of Textiles, many programs with designers and clusters have been initiated.
The FDCI board has decided from the Covid trust fund they will allocate an amount to buying unsold stocks from weavers. The weavers will be identified by DC handlooms, under the Ministry of Textiles as well as handloom designers.