The most striking takeaway from Wills India Fashion Week that took place last month was that Indian designers are making use of traditional fabrics and textiles and Indian artisan skills.
Indian designers that have in the past have usually been inspired by international trends are now searching for inspiration within India and turning to local talent from different parts of the country like Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. Indian fabrics like jute and matka were seen on sarees with designers showcasing their stylish and sustainable designs using these indigenous fabrics and labour.
Wendell Rodrick’s fashion show recently for his new collection ‘Yoga Calm’ was meant to be in support of Indian weavers. His yoga calm collection featured white cotton pieces. The designer also mentions that he finds traditional fabrics, techniques and skills increasingly important for India and people must embrace this talent and remember India’s rich cultural heritage.
Jaya Jaitley who is currently the president of Dastkari Haat Samiti is in favour of Indian textiles and was extremely pleased with Wendell’s attempt to promote traditional fabrics, textiles and talent. She believes that this should be an inspiration to other designers as well.
Designer Rajesh Pratap Singh’s runway show was as glamorous as expected and the spotlight was definitely on the funky outfits that he showcased. His collection used natural indigo for denim wear. He also used his workers and colleagues within his showcase and seated them on the ramp as a way of paying homage to his skilled team.
Rina Singh as well, presented completely natural 100% handloom outfits. She believes that this sustainable system is becoming increasingly popular and even consumers acknowledging this trend. She states that it is all part of a chain as artisans who receive orders from designers will eventually pass on these skills to their children as they see it as a means of gaining a livelihood and thus this traditional talent will not die.
Aneeth Arora who opened Wills India Fashion Week also presents a completely natural collection. She mentions that she had been working with Maheshwaris and Chanderi from Madhya Pradesh, Ikats from South India and block printing techniques from Rajasthan for this collection. She believes that through these shows they can present these traditional fabrics to consumers in ways they can wear them and promote these arts and crafts in this manner.
Designer Nachiket Barve who uses fabrics like chanderi, tussar and jute in his collections makes an interesting point and says that fabrics should not be seen purely as a form of charity but instead should be encouraged and used for products that can sell in Indian and international markets so that they remain in demand and become sustainable themselves.
Anumpama Dayal who designs outfits that feature her statement tassels and trims works with a lot of women from the Munirka Village in Delhi and since they just know how to work with tassels, the designer makes sure she uses tassels in every collection so that she can provide employment for these women.
Apart from designers doing their bit, SK Panda textile secretary also noted the Ministry of Textiles agenda to promote Indian arts and crafts. He spoke about giving importance to the union of fashion and tourism and how traditional design should be constantly restated.