The Indian Textile Day scheduled for March 14 at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai, has an interesting line-up. Besides senior designers who have worked closely with the weaving and craft communities, there will be a special show by the Morarka Arts and Crafts Foundation featuring promising talents. What is it that attracts these young talents to traditional textiles? What is their design philosophy? What do they think of LFW as a platform to promote their dream of sustainable crafts? T. Krithika Reddy talks to the designers who have been silently working to promote sustainable fashion

KHADI MEETS DENIM

LABEL: “11.11/ eleven eleven” by Shani Himanshu and Smita Singh Rathore.

Having graduated from Domus Academy in Milan, the duo has been taking Indian textiles to a global clientele. In 2010, they were joined by Mia Morikawa, artist-designer who had graduated from Central Saint Martins, London. Says Himanshu: “The highlight of the collection for LFW is ‘khadi denim.’ It involved painstaking research and took many months to develop. As far as our brand goes, our endeavour is to connect the maker with the wearer. So we make it a point to train people on the finer aspect of getting their personality into the creations. All the fabrics are hand-woven and the signature of the craftsperson is embroidered on the garment. Besides our focus on textiles, cut, fit and finish play pivotal roles in our collection. We see this association with Morarka at LFW as a starting point to grow to another level.

BEHIND THE SEAMS: We are conscious about what we eat. Why aren’t we conscious about what we wear? We want to tell a story that’s Indian.

POWER OF WHITE

LABEL: Tilla by Aratrik Devvarman

A camera-wielding Nature lover-turned-designer, Devvarman is involved with weaving clusters in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. It was while surfing his albums on Nature that a beautiful narrative on seven Indian trees emerged and he decided to take up design. “Why should we use maple motifs when we have our own trees like neem, palm and mango,” asks the designer who has created clothing and home linen collections. “For Textile Day, my line is called “Mogra”. It’s a collection of relaxed silhouettes in white and off-white kora. Since the theme is mogra, the creations are light and ultra feminine. Though hand-spun textiles are used, the look is contemporary.

BEHIND THE SEAMS: Tilla stands for the unconventional. We don’t believe in seasonal updates. We believe in styles that don’t get dated!

FOREST ESSENTIALS

LABEL: Anavila by Anavila Misra

“There is a new wave of slow, thoughtful and conscious design finding its place in the Indian Fashion scene and LFW’s dedicated slot with the Morarka Foundation can help create awareness and appreciation for this kind of work on a national level,” says Anavila Misra. This NIFT graduate with a PG degree in Knitwear Design worked with Madura Garments and Wills Lifestyle before turning to the Indian craft sector. “A wonderful opportunity to manage a craft project for the Ministry of Rural Development in collaboration with NIFT changed my career path. The project took me to remote and fascinating craft belts across India. I was deeply moved by the beautiful work of our weavers and artisans. After the project, I couldn’t go back to a regular job, so I started my own label.” Famous for her hand-woven linen saris, Anavila works with natural materials and is known for her minimalist approach to design. “I want to experiment with various textile crafts. The theme of my show for LFW is ‘The secret life of the forest.’ It’s about discovering beauty as you journey through the forest. I have worked with crafts like hand block printing, khatwa (appliqué from Jharkhand), batik and sujani on hand-woven linen to create various textures and motifs that reflect the secrets of the forest.”

BEHIND THE SEAMS: Budding new designers are engaging themselves with the weavers and craft clusters to give fresh interpretations to traditional textiles. There’s a new idiom that’s emerging. It’s an exciting phase.