The Goan sari finds its place in the sun at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week as part of Wendell Rodricks' collection

Celebrated fashion designer Wendell Rodricks is all set to make a style statement with a Goan sari at the Wills Lifestyle India Week scheduled to start from October 24 at Pragati Maidan.

At 9.30 p.m. on the opening day, Wendell will present a revived Goan ethnic collection led by a Kunbi Tribe sari.

Rodricks says the Kunbi Tribe collection is the fruit of many years of research and a catalyst to revive the art of weaving in the State of Goa. “Marginalised by mainstream society, denounced to the lowest rung of the caste ladder and used today for dancing at entertainments, the Kunbis deserve to be addressed as the original inhabitants of the land,” he states.

A blend of cotton and silk, woven and knitted textures, the Wendell Rodricks Kunbi Tribe collection is a celebration of revivalism. Reviving the Kunbi tribal dresses was a daunting task, considering the caste stigma associated with it, leading to its virtual extinction, notes the designer.

The sari is traditionally worn by women from lower castes. “I wanted to change that perspective,” says Rodricks.

The project to revive the ethnic sari and dresses of Goa was taken up over seven years back, he explains, and since July 2009, he has begun a grassroots campaign to revive the Kunbi sari in a designer avatar, eventually giving it a contemporary style.

“Goa needed to have its own place in ethnic and traditional collections, have its own sari. I always felt embarrassed that Kashmiris have their own shawl, many States have their own saris, but Goa had none.”

Though sourcing weavers and looms was not easy, after closely working with a couple of traditional weavers, Rodricks describes his project as his ambition “to leave behind a legacy of Goan weaving heritage.”

Worried by the fading of the great tradition of weaving, Rodricks has already submitted a revival project to Goa's Higher Education Department to implement a training programme with the help of Poonam Pandit. Government patronage will galvanise his efforts, he explains. “Young people, particularly women, could be trained to take up weaving as a vocation as a sustainable home activity,” he says. “It is eco-friendly, no noise-pollution. It can help sustain livelihood among women.”

The collection has come in for praise from style icon Nandita Das, who says in a promotional video, “This Goan ethnic sari can proudly stand alongside any sari in India.”

Rodricks says the cotton-silk sari would be priced between Rs.1700 and 2800.

Rodricks, who has already presented a specimen to President of India Pratibha Patil, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi and prominent Indian women who wear their cotton saris as a badge of cultural identity, says he is thankful to the Goa Government's Tourism Department for supporting the Kunbi Weave project.