National Handloom Day: flaunt the warp and weft

As a child whose ‘fancy wear’ closet included well-tailored pinafores, dresses, and skirts made out of my grandmother’s and mother’s old silk saris, I was introduced to hand-woven textiles rather young. The obsession for all things handloom, especially saris (worn as saris now, of course!), has only gotten stronger.

On the occasion of National Handloom Day, MetroPlus talks to some young fashion influencers who have shown millennials that handloom isn’t just for the oldies. Revivalism is in and there are umpteen innovative and fashionable ways to flaunt handloom today.

National Handloom Day: flaunt the warp and weft

According to Pranita Mehta, a stylist, fashion blogger, and proprietor of indie fashion label, Advi, “In this age of fast fashion, aesthetics seem to have lost out. With mass manufacturing, no trend stays longer than a season and there are hardly any emotions attached to what we wear and how we present ourselves. Somewhere, with this thought, wearing handloom calms my roadrunner lifestyle, comforts me, and also makes me feel proud and unique. I feel in some way I am contributing to revivalism.”Madhu Reka, owner of and designer at city-based Hashtag Azhagi, says, “I have always been a cotton lover. I was not the kind of person who chased fashion trends or struggled to stay in sync with what the rest of the world was wearing. Handloom was, is, and will always be my style statement. Accessorised with the right blouse and statement pieces, handlooms can look as chic and stylish as western wear. The most important thing is being confident enough to carry it off. The touch and feel of handloom can never be replaced by a power loom fabric.”

While older millennials might opt for saris or hand woven/hand embroidered kurtas, or even khadi shirts/tunics or trousers, the younger ones tend to ensure their desi-inspired/fusion outfits incorporate modern silhouettes.

“Some of my go-to handloom outfits that have a modern appeal include a woven shirt that I wear with denims, a calf length striped dress I style with loafers on a casual day out, and a naturally dyed silk, hand-blocked printed stole gifted to me by a friend’s mom,” says Pranita.

“My favourite handloom outfit would be a simple hand embroidered khadi dress and anything in ikat,” says Madhu. “However, I would prefer a simple cotton sari over anything else.”

National Handloom Day: flaunt the warp and weft

“With so many designers taking handloom to the next level incorporating innovative silhouettes, mixing and matching traditional crafts like embroidery, painting, printing, one is not limited to wearing only just a sari when it comes to embracing handloom,” says Pranita. “Whenever I travel around the country, I look out for fabrics in local markets. From Chanderi in Madhya Pradesh to Khadi in Gujarat, Jamdani in West Bengal to silk from the South, you can get anything made out of them, be it shirts, dresses, kurtis or jackets. You could wear handwoven shirts and kurtis with denims for everyday wear. Throw stoles on tunics and dresses, carry handwoven tote bags, and maintain a soothing colour palette. That is handloom done right and contemporarily!”

For Naina Ruhail, a Delhi stylist, makeup artist, and blogger, “Long kurta dresses and saris are my favourites when it comes to wearing handloom. I feel we millennials enjoy giving our handloom outfits an edgy look. You could add some statement accessories or pair it with sneakers to break the monotony.” “Handloom is a tool for experimentation,” says Madhu. “The mixing and matching of different fabrics lends a wonderful symphony to the piece. My styling is more inclined towards tradition. For millennials who are looking for interesting handloom workwear options, I would suggest an ikat dress, a plain mul cotton sari with a contrast floral or block printed blouse, or even a plain Mangalgiri cotton kurta with a contrast ajrakh/ kalamkari dupatta. Handloom party-wear could include a Patan-Patola silk sari, or maybe even one of your grandmother’s silk saris that you could turn into a full length flared dress.”

Sustainable fashion is the only way forward. According to Smriti Rao, a sociologist who works with local weavers, “If we don’t educate our children and inculcate in them a love for home grown textiles, nobody else will. With us and our mothers having worn handloom saris or at least clothing that involved some amount of labour by hand, millennials seem to be slowly encouraging local artisans today. And one can only hope with new-age stylists and designers reviving weaving tradition of yore in novel ways, Gen Z and the ones to follow carry on the tradition, trendily of course.”

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 1:40:52 PM |

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