Fashion designers who have contributed to the handloom narrative of India
Fashion is the “tail end" of the work that handlooms have achieved or need to achieve, says designer Ritu Kumar. And rightly so. All the same, if anyone can give this narrative the upward curve it needs at this juncture, it is fashion designers. Creating highbrow aspiration, turning handlooms, including Khadi, into affordable luxury for a discerning clientele, fashionizing the weave, modernizing the handwoven sari, making design interventions to save weaves from the sea of power-loom fabrics, launching sustainable businesses with weaving clusters—designers have introduced an urban sensitivity to handlooms. A majority of them—from Tarun Tahiliani, J.J. Valaya or Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla of the senior cadre to Nachiket Barve, Rimzim Dadu and Swati Kalsi among the younger brigade—work with crafts, creating beautiful embroideries and reinventing traditional embellishment, dyeing and printing techniques on handlooms. But this story limits itself to those whose focus has been on handloom interactions. Designers like Bappaditya and Rumi Biswas of bai lou or Rta Kapur Chishti of Taanbaan—to give just two names—have strong handloom viewpoints too, but we have focused here on those who show at fashion weeks. This is not the ultimate directory, only a representative idea of designer work.
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