T-shirts are tangible souvenirs that prolong tourist experience as they reinforce both the stereotyped image of the country as well as its culture. T-shirts have not acquired great importance as a promotional element in Kerala both in terms of product and services, though the State has hit headlines as a world class and one of the must-see destinations.

Lack of destination-specific T-shirts in Kerala has now been overcome by Art for Life, a society formed as a platform to promote unknown artists in villages and to support the livelihood of women and children with severe disabilities.

As part of the initiative, the society has launched theme T-shirts ‘Namasthe Kovalam.' The T-shirts were launched by Minister for Tourism A.P. Anil Kumar. The patterns that figure in the first series include fishermen in catamaran, the landmark light house, mural presentation of the sun and beach, Kathakali, and Theyyam.

The society has been active with production of souvenirs, paintings, art pieces, and similar artefacts linking social promotion initiatives in tourism-related destinations and cities. Experienced artists such as Mahendran and Sylee Radhakrishnan have been roped in to design theme souvenirs and destination-specific T-shirts for each tourist destination.

A leading garment producer for European brands had come forward to support the society to produce limited edition theme T-shirts, said society president K. Vijayachandran.

Limited edition

The society had decided to come out with a design every month and produce T-shirts depicting the essence of culture, people, and nature. T-shirts on Kumarakom with essence of life in the backwaters, nature, birds, and Chinese fishing net have hit the shops. Special editions for Munnar, Wayanad, Alappuzha, Malabar, etc. would be launched soon, he said.

The exclusive souvenirs and T-shirt branded ‘Namasthe Keralam' for the fifth edition of Kerala Tourism's Grand Kerala Shopping Festival Season 5 that concluded on February 15 was appreciated for its quality and artistic marvel. It is estimated that every tourist will buy one T-shirt for personal use or to give as a gift. T-shirt swapping has also become fashionable nowadays.

Art for Life is a forum that supports the livelihood of women and children with severe disabilities.