Owing to its distinct weaving technique, a Kanjeevaram saree is 48 inches wide, a good three inches wider than your regular saree. The mulberry silk that goes into making a Kanjeevaram saree is rich and strong, lending the average Kanjeevaram saree a weight that ranges from 500 grams to a whole kilogram.
It used to be a custom for Kanjeevaram sarees to have at least 50% of their weight made up of silver and over 0.5% made of gold and the same has been mandated by the GI label given to them. Recently, however, the rules have been relaxed by the Tamil Nadu government for the benefit of the weavers and the weight requirement has been brought down to 40% silver and 0.3% of gold per saree. Consequently, a regular Kanjeevaram saree today is not as opulent as one that was made say, a decade ago. The prices though, have gone up the roof. However, this has neither impacted the demand nor the sales because a Kanjeevaram saree remains a must-have in every south Indian woman’s trousseau and wardrobe. What a Benaras silk saree is to a North Indian, a Kanjeevaram is to a South Indian. Given their value and longevity, Kanjeevaram sarees are family heirlooms that can easily last a couple of generations if they are well taken care of.
Kanjeevaram Sarees - Modern Design
Even though the demand for Kanjeevaram sarees is still strong, women now want them in contemporary colours and designs to suit their modern tastes. As a result, temple and paisley motifs have given way to hummingbirds and geometric patterns. Colours have also gone softer, with more and more weavers favouring pastels and pinks over customary deep reds and yellows. Embellishments like crystal and sequins that were never heard of before in a Kanjeevaram are also slowly catching on. Such sarees are a beautiful mix of trend and tradition and are becoming increasingly popular among a niche clientele that recognises and celebrates the value and beauty of handloom.
Kanjeevaram Sarees - Gaurang Shah Saree
A number of silk emporiums in South India now also offer designer blouses and blouse fabrics with a Kanjeevaram saree that will make it stand out among a sea of silks that are paired with a traditional matching blouse. We feel that the next step towards diversification of Kanjeevaram silk would be to make a transition into dupattas, stoles and contemporary ready-to-wear outfits.
Shilpa Shetty in a Tarun Tahiliani Gown
As an added push to this gorgeous weave, designers like Gaurang Shah, Tarun Tahiliani and Shilpa Reddy have incorporated the Kanjeevaram fabric in a variety of forms to create stunning interpretations that will impress the modern woman no end. With their efforts, not only are they creating more awareness about the weave all over the country but are also impelling traditional weavers to rethink their designs to deliver something out of the ordinary. Such tidings only mean good things to the handloom industry which is otherwise dying a slow death at the hands of power loom.