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Nayaab, preserving rich heritage of Indian traditional textiles

by Apparel Resources

21-December-2018  |  7 mins read

The ‘Ikai’ collection
The ‘Ikai’ collection

Indian weaving industry has conventionally been one of the most promising sectors of mass employment. Availability of huge quantity of raw materials and continuous supply of economically affordable labour force are the factors contributing to the industry. Over 38,00,000 Indian weaving industries have been built throughout the country and more than 15,00,000 domestic weaving industries have been set up in the states of North and Eastern parts of India. However, the liberalisation of the international trade along with change in reforms of indigenous economy have adversely affected the industry. Also, the evidence throughout the history shows that weavers have always been a victim of staunch hierarchical system in the country.

In an endeavour to give traditional Indian textiles and the weavers and artisans the space they deserve in the world of fashion, curators Rupa Sood and Sharan Apparao have been hosting ‘Nayaab’, an exhibition showcasing the craftsmanship of Indian weaves, for the past 3 years. The 3-day event was held at The Lodhi Hotel in the national capital where 23 designers showcased the exquisite works of artisans and weavers across the country. Team Apparel Resources explored the various aspects of the sector and how the exhibitors are trying to uplift the lives of these artisans.

With this edition, the curators presented a wide selection of the Indian weaves paying tribute to the ancient textiles of the country. “The name of the exhibition was an accident and it came up while in conversation with a rural woman who was selling us an antique fabric. The idea of Nayaab is to make people aware about the textile craft skills, people working with weaves, natural dyes, structure and fabric. However, we are not the revivalists or the producers, we just put together everything on a platform,” informs Sharan Apparao. The exhibition encapsulated the aesthetic sensibilities of designers presenting their work of Indian textiles in modern fashion. Nayaab is getting recognised for the quality it offers and the overall curation. The designers showcasing at the exhibition are selected on the basis of the aesthetics they present in their collection. Nayaab hosts maximum of 25 designers per exhibition and “has no plans to scale.”

Collection showcased by L'affaire
Collection showcased by L’affaire

“The response has been pretty good. We are showcasing sarees and dupattas. The fabrics are all handwoven from Chanderi and Kolkata. Our forte is hand block printing. We have done lots of silks and tussars this time according to the season. We work with weavers who source all cottons, tussars, silks and malmals from Kolkata. We did contemporary look in the regular block printing trying to break the monotony. We play with simple block and do texturing. In block printing, the more you explore the more you get out of it. Now, we are thinking of working with more weavers from Gujarat. In coming years, people will buy more handcrafts rather than going for polysters, etc.,” said Rakshit Reddy, one of the exhibitors at the event.

Telangana is one of the important states for handloom industry and is known for Pochampally Ikat, Gadwal, Narayanpet & Gollabama Sarees and Durries from Warangal and Karan Torani from Torani designs is well versed with the intricacies of designs offered by artisans from the state. Torani showcased his ‘Sindhdi’ collection at Nayaab which included clothes like handwoven, Andhra cottons, handwoven chanderi, silk and a huge part of the collection based on Indian classic Chintz or Chhint, a tradition of painting florals which is surviving for over 200 years. “For me, Nayaab has been a very fulfilling experience not only because of the sales but also because of a certain kind of audience or clientele that it brings you – people who value the heritage of Indian textiles and treasure them. I feel power looms and rise of technology has made the Indian craftsmen suffer. We need to give that amount of work to our weavers so that the cost of fabric comes down and the masses can consume it. We need to make it a fabric for the common man because it is made by the common man. Also, we need to spread more awareness about the fabric and Nayaab is a great platform for the same,” maintains Torani.

Aanchal, Co-Founder, Ohfab

Besides, India needs to step up and work to revive handlooms and the textiles ministry is already working towards popularising handlooms among youth. Aanchal, Co-Founder, Ohfab, works on craft revival and showcased designs that were 100-150 years old. She takes pride in offering pure works of art made at her own looms which helps the label control the quality of the products being produced. “We work with weavers who specialise in art revival skills and look forward to such work. Also, we make sure to buy directly from the weavers who are well remunerated,” she adds.

Nayaab has built a strong following among fashion and textile enthusiasts across India. Having showcased the works of top Indian design talents, including pioneers such as Ritu Kumar, Jean-Francois Lesage and more, Nayaab has been positioned as one of the leading textile platforms in the country. While the event aspires to embody the traditions of Indian textile heritage and epitomise the stories of countless hands that have worked to create these exquisite masterpieces, it will only be with time that the handloom and weaving in textiles gain its lost space in the industry. For this year, the participating designers included 11.11/eleven eleven, Akaaro, Bodhi, Buna, Divyam Mehta, Eachaneri, eka, En Inde, Ikai, Indian Textiles, Kora, L’affaire, Ohfab, Pero, Pradeep Pillai, Shaw Brothers: Mubi & Mufi, Taika, Urvashi Kaur, Weavers, Yavi and Zyanya.