Dastkar Andhra offers a captivating collection of saris and eco-friendly fabrics.

In the past two decades Dastkar Andhra has woven a success story by giving 500 skilled cotton handloom weavers of Andhra employment, opportunity and a purpose to use their precious hand skills to create again. The frames of reference created by Dastkar Andhra and its marketing and research wing, DAMA, are value based and compassionate to weaver and environment alike with quality product as the focus. Weaving on handloom, warping and dyeing is done at individual cottages or Cooperative centres, by using only vegetable dyes and azo-free dyes. The profits are shared with the weaver –producer and Dama’s resource persons and designers are in constant touch with weavers on design sensibilities, quality control and changing client tastes. Yet for all the blending of contemporary tastes with inherent skills and accent on innovation the Dastkar story carries an unmistakable textile flavour of Andhra.

Amazing contrasts in cotton saris are captivating: ultramarine blue set off with broad orange border and pallu, shocking pink and green and turquoise, set off with blue, to name a few. The ‘sada mixing’ designer technique plays with heady jewel colours and elegant contrast borders while a range of softest sherbati tones cast a spell on saris and yardage. Stripes and checks add a muted designer touch to both saris and yardage. The intermingling of colours and weaves in dupattas is stunning.

The Khadi Collection is in pure vegetable colours. Pretty muga silk borders, jamdaani butties, handblock prints and kalamkaris add value to the Dastkar Andhra khadi experience.

At Dastkar’s ‘Flavours of Andhra’ exhibition now on in the city, weaver Venkateshwar from Panchapalli in Prakasam district, displayed the soft lustrous saris and yardage that he has created. Coming from a paramparik family of weavers he began to weave at the age of eight. “My two years stint with Dastkar gave me a creative and financially satisfying experience,” says Venkateshwar. “I am the connecting link between the Dama designer and the weaver. And I decide if the samples brought to me by the DAMA designers work on the loom. I get the dyes from Dama and do the dyeing, warping and weaving at home in my single loom. I supply only to Dastkar.” According to Ravindra, manager production, Dama “We don’t work with master artisans but with cooperative societies and individuals. The profits are shared fairly with the weavers.”

The captivating range of Dastkar saris and fabric including smart made-ups reflect the eco-friendly wears in tune with contemporary trends and fashions. And the humming looms of Andhra relive what was once a proud heritage.

Flavours of Andhra is on at Lalit Kala Akademi, 4, Greames Road, till August 10.