Maku is an endeavour by Santanu and Chirag to revive the tangail weaving technique and to promote the single colour, Indigo
Maku Textiles, the brainchild of Santanu Das and Chirag Gandhi, was established six months ago. In this short span of time, the duo was invited by Heartwear to exhibit their creations in Paris and had their first show in Mumbai in November last year.
The trademark of Maku, which means weaving shuttle in Bengali, is the promotion of a single colour indigo and the revival of dying traditional weaving practices. “We want to make indigo a style statement, a brand,” says Santanu. Chirag speaks of Maku’s endeavour of reviving tangail weaving technique. “We are concentrating on tangail technique, but slowly will revive other traditional techniques,” says Chirag.
The Ahmedabad-based duo puts in a lot of work into research and design. “I have to convince the weavers in Bengal that we need indigo. That unlike what it was during the era of colonisation by the British, indigo is commercially viable today,” says Santanu. When Santanu went in search of tangail weavers in Bengal, he found that most of the village women wore machine-made saris. He eventually discovered some exquisite hand-woven tangali saris. Thus began his journey of reviving this technique. As he speaks, Santanu points at a series of gorgeous tangail saris.
One is a striking red sari embellished with delicate white motifs and another a sophisticated blue- and-white sari, reminiscent of old Bengali saris. “Tangail is a cruder version of jamdani. The fabric becomes soft after it is washed, making it a comfortable garment to wear during summers.” Santanu has revived some of his late foster mother’s saris. “These creations hold a sentimental value. I associate my mother with these saris,” says Santanu.
The khadi dresses, dupattas and kurtas on sale at Vermilion House have very different cuts, styles and designs. They are trendy, yet have an unmistakable traditional imprint on them.
Some of the clothing looks like kimonos, reflecting Japanese influence. “Our products have the element of timelessness to it. We ensure we create products that last for a decade,” says Santanu, who is the only fibre artist from India to have been given the Italian Valcellina Award for artists below age 30.
The duo finds it challenging to get funding, but this hasn’t deterred them from their vision. “It’s difficult to get investors interested in our products. But we want to be independent and so decided to get into retail. We invested one lakh rupees from our own pockets to start Maku . The first payment we received was 700 euros from the exhibition in Paris, which we used for our show in Mumbai.” says Santanu. The duo holds talks at the exhibitions of their products to create awareness. “We take the material to the common people, they appreciate it and buy it. We ensure that the weavers benefit too,” says Santanu. “We supply our products to stores in Goa and Ahmedabad and look forward to supplying in Hyderabad and Jaipur,” adds Chirag.
Santanu, a graduate from National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, and Chirag, an engineering graduate from Institute of Technology, Nirma University are driven by passion. “I wanted to be a filmmaker. But I chose textile designing because I wanted to work on concept and art where my association with material is direct and not through computers.”
Chirag gave up bright prospects in engineering to join Santanu in setting up Maku. “I kept meeting Santanu on the NID campus. I was always drawn to design, and realised that I wanted to do something in that field. So while Santanu handles the design of the products, I handle the business aspect.”
The dresses are priced between Rs. 2,000 and 8,000, the tangail saris from Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 25,000 and the scarves between Rs. 1,400 and Rs. 3,500. The collection is on sale today at Vermilion House, 3/2, Cleveland Road cross, Frazer Town. For more details mail firstname.lastname@example.org.