Sundaylite | Fashion

When tradition undergoes a make over

Ikat Varnajalam and Varnajalam saris at RmKV

Ikat Varnajalam and Varnajalam saris at RmKV   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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RmKV has been infusing the Kanjeevaram sari with trendy alterations, and it is set to continue this Deepavali

This Deepavali, RMKV Silks is using design innovation to stand out.

Over the past 25 years, the brand has worked on being pioneers in three sub-platforms of innovation as it relates to their product — design, fabric and colour, according to K Sivakumar, managing director, RMKV Silks.

Pushing boundaries

He holds out a kalamkari silk sari in colour of green bonsai.

“Motifs, which had gone missing from our traditional weaves for a while, are coming back with this sari. It is trendy and lightweight,” he says, adding that it is priced at ₹18,450.

That is not all. There is also the Varnajalam. It is a unique take on optical art patterns in psychedelic colours. There is also an ikat variation of this piece, and both have been woven using a patented KV technique.

“The inspiration for Varnajalam came to me when I was going through Victor Vasarely’s works. There are about 20-25 pastel colours,” says Sivakumar. Priced at ₹1.20 lakh, Varnajalam is, however, a bridal wear sari but, for Deepavali, RmKV has introduced a casual wear variant of the same concept that retails at ₹25,000.

The use of KV technique is key to bringing Varnajalam to life because traditional weaving technique employed by the handloom sector in Kanjeevaram saris — Petni (used to prepare the warp to produce pallu, body and border of silk saris in solid colours) makes it difficult to produce such concepts.

“It has to be harmoniously applied using the tying and dyeing technique. This process takes anywhere between three to four months. Using KV technique, we brought it down to 10 days,” says Sivakumar.

Kalamkari sari in bonsoi green colour

Kalamkari sari in bonsoi green colour   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Likewise for the ikat variant, weaving sharp images onto the fabric too is made possible by KV technique. “The zari is pure and the fabric is easy for consumers to wear, and is far more affordable,” he adds.

Looking forward

But a question bothering retailers in the handloom sector affects RmKV as well. How do you get young people to take to silk saris?

“Since we develop our concepts based on customer input, we concluded that younger people are turning away from traditional silks because it is heavy. They feel it is cumbersome to carry around,” says Sivakumar.

This gave birth to the Lino range of saris — or as he puts it “the sari that breathes”.

It weighs 40% lesser than the conventional sari. “Without compromising on the sheen or quality,” he says, adding, “This is how we’d like for our brand to be differentiated. For the uniqueness we offer. To achieve that, we continue to experiment and innovate,” he adds.

At RmKV, innovation is not restricted to the Kanjeevaram sari.

Sivakumar says that the company has also filed for a patent to their modernised pneumatic looms. Contrary to the traditional infrastructure, these use compressed air to lift the heavy overhead jacquard assembly.

This eliminates the physical effort required by weavers to weave a sari (one of the many reasons why the handloom industry loses quality human resource from its workforce, due to fatigue and exertion).

Once the patent is granted, Sivakumar adds that he wants to release the technology for the handloom sector’s benefit. “We have no intention of gaining commercial benefits. We see it as giving back our bit to the weaving community from whom we have gained a lot in these 95 years.”

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 8:25:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/fashion/when-tradition-undergoes-a-make-over/article29744626.ece

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