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Padmasaalis - The Weaver Communities:
History is the result of various forces and factors including geographical, social, religious etc. Each region of India evolved its own textile tradition and known for the production of distinct varieties of handloom saris. This handloom saris and blouse weaving industry is highly traditional, labour intensive, caste based mostly unorganized and decentralized. It employs a large number of women folk and thrives on inherited skills and patronage by rural population and connoisseurs of art. The weavers say that at one time, the Padmashalis as the community is called, were among the better off in the village. But today, even the most backward SC/ST population get land for agriculture, the weavers get no help.
Challenge to the Society -
India has a heritage of handloom weaving that is unique and the largest anywhere in the world. But that is dying because of lack of support and policies that are killing the handloom industry that provides employment to the largest number of people after agriculture in the country. In the market, the biggest challenge is unfair competition. Powerloom products are sold as handloom. The genuine handloom is produced with high cost, subsidised labour. Imitations which are produced cheaper move in the market. That is the cumulative challenge.
Irony of the times -
The tragedy is that at a time when the government is talking about skill development as a priority, these skilled artisans are becoming deskilled labour, working as vendors or chai makers. The government says there are 43 lakh weavers in the country. Activists put that number at nearly two crore people. But, these artisans have left their art and started migrating to the cities and adopted professions like chaiwalas and coolies. The irony is that cotton production has gone up to a record 380 lakh bales yet yarn is not available easily to the weaver and yarn price went up by 50-100 per cent but wages have hardly increased.
What does Handloom mean to India?
If IT sector employs 10 million people in the country, Handloom sector employs 4.3 million people. Handloom, or fabric woven by hand, makes up just over a tenth of India’s total fabric production. A spectacular range is created by weavers across the country, from the Madras checks and Kanchipuram weaves of Tamil Nadu to pashmina and shahtoosh of J&K, from the tie-and-dyes of Gujarat and Rajasthan to the eri and muga silks of Assam. Greatest of the collection like Mangalgiri cottons and Kanjeevaram silks have no competition when it comes to cultural significance it brings to clothing.
Limitations of Powerloom -
Powerloom accounts for nearly 60% of fabrics and, because it is mechanised, works nearly 10 times faster than handloom. Costs differ, but the gap is massive: handloom can cost Rs 500/metre to create, while the same fabric could be woven on a powerloom for Rs 30/metre. Average investment in a powerloom could be Rs 15,000, three times that of handloom. But many handloom motifs and patterns cannot be replicated on powerloom.
Narendra Modi, The Prime Minister
The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, said on 7th August 2015, National handloom day that handlooms can be a tool to fight poverty, just as swadeshi was a tool in the struggle for freedom. He said Khadi and handloom products provide the same warmth that mother's love provides.
Ritu Sethi, Chairperson, Craft Revival Trust:
Have separate policies for powerloom and handloom, ensuring that powerloom policy does not cannibalise handloom. Handloom is the second largest industry after agriculture, giving millions direct and indirect employment, and deserves its own ministry.
Maqbool Hassan, master weaver, Varanasi:
Have a handloom mark like the gold hallmark to certify authenticity.
Jayati Ghosh, Economist:
Give handloom weavers access to markets, knowledge, credit. Get textile experts on board as decision-makers.
Deepika Govind, Fashion designer:
Teach weaving in schools to instil pride in students in urban areas and give a sense of purpose to weavers. Increase market connect for weavers from remote areas.
Laila Tyabji, founder, Dastkar:
Government should invest in pre-loom and post-loom stages to ensure handloom weavers get finance, timely raw material and market access. Don’t concentrate only on design and promotion.
How Tribal women Empowered us to Sell ...
Today, most Social enterprises claim that they empower people but what if we change our lens !!!
Would we have truly been able to do our work well if they didnot enable us with the beautiful products that they made with their hands ???
Are we their enablers... or have they empowered us to sell ???
72 tribal women from outskirts of Mumbai formed a co-operative and got trained in stitching industrial quality garments with the help of a Mumbai based company. These people who have never seen a stitching machine in their lives have upskilled themselves to produce beautiful products from their hands and enabled us to reach out to institutional buyers to bring in a steady stream of orders. This vibrant tribal community works from the lap of the serene environs of Sahyadri Range and inspires us to do what we do the best for them - Marketing Hand-made clothes
DHAGA is one of the first such facilities in India managed by Tribal women that can deliver an Export level stitching quality. A tremendous effort has gone into building the facility and we are working on the Demand side since August 2016 to provide platform to authentic Handloom Garments produced in the hinterlands of the country and hand-stitched by the women of Maval region in Maharashtra.
An enormous amount of work has gone in building an efficient supply chain that can keep the cost low and still send across the world, the hand-made love right from the rural regions that forms the choicest part of experiencing the idea of India. *
Most difficult hardships of a rural place is the lack of commutation. This project has been able to overcome this undeniable reality by giving commutation facility for women who otherwise would have to walk 14 Kms a day to go to work. The unique combination of Centralized and De-centralized models to keep QC in control and outsource certain processes makes this possible.
Today, A unique variety of hand-woven products are developed by DHAGA that are contemporarized to the urban tastes and appealing to the next-gen Fashion palette with the help of Fabric Monde’s Design inputs. We also have taken a step forward to provide a marketing platform through famous handloom exhibitions in metropolitan cities for the products. Some of the famous exhibitions where our products saw a traction and were picked up like hot cakes are Kala Ghoda from Mumbai and Chitrakala Parishad from Bangalore.
- By Jyothi
Motherhood inspiring Entrepreneurship - Fabric Monde Distributorship Model
Single largest challenge that a corporate woman faces in her career is going back to the office after the pregnancy break. While these women in the urban have numerous problems seeking a good second career opportunity after pregnancy, the same pregnancy brings all the marginalized women together for work near Pune. In this manufacturing unit - Kalam Kaushal, there are 390 mothers who were trained to work to support their families. The hand-stitched products that are made here are retailing today in foreigner-flooded tourist destinations of India like Jaipur.
Fabric Monde works with these communities to produce authentic Handloom garments which are strictly monitored under QC processes to provide the right products the right platform to sell. A curated choice of color palette that is in-line with the world’s front-end fashion put together by the experts of Handloom Export Promotion Council (HEPC) of India is used to provide design inputs to these women.
The mothers put together a unique range of hand-embroidery work as carefully as they handle their new borns at home. Every stitch they make at work results in a smile that comes out of well-being of their new born babies. The embroidery and hand stitching work they participate in contributes to almost 40% of the household income while one of the young ladies that purchases regularly from the exhibitions we hold at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) says as a testimonial that, “The simple hand-embroidery that you make is something which is not available anywhere in the market.“
As we work towards these marginalized mothers on one hand, our unique “Social Selling Distributorship Model” which urban women at Bangalore subscribe for provides one of the best second careers available in the market today. It is an opportunity for a woman to explore her potential and start her own business in the field of hand-woven textiles. Madhavi, who lives in Bangalore in a gated community and a mother of twin daughter returned to work after 8 years of pregnancy break. She used to work in airtel before the break and after a few years of gap, this qualified, able and enthusiastic woman could not return to the corporate because of the prejudices that exist in the corporate for a woman. She looked for ‘Work from Home” opportunities and all that were available were the typical boring data entry jobs which neither utilized Madhavi’s skill nor her potential. Surprisingly, there are 3 lakh women in Bangalore alone who are like her. Almost 75% women who are holding a graduate degree are still unemployed.
Moreover, no career opportunity gave her a job satisfaction which is important for someone who has passion for work. She started with the ‘Fabric Monde Distributorship Model’ and enjoyed the colors of handwoven textiles from various handloom clusters and the stories of their origin. She translated all this knowledge and passion into tangible business and explored a new angle of herself in the whole process of taking up the distributorship.
- By Jyothi
Taking Natural-dyed products to the world markets ... The new fad 'Natural Fashion'
The usage of natural dyes can be traced back to 5000 years ago. From the rich cotton texture of Udupi sarees to the light weight cotton weaves of Narayanapet Sarees, from the unique varieties of Ilkal sarees from Bagalkot to the simple yet elegant silks of Mysore sarees, Karnataka weavers produce these sarees in the natural dyes range. Traditionally, sarees were woven with naturally available plant based dyes made of Indigo, pomegranate, myrobylan, areca juice and jack wood. Most of the traditional weavers have switched over to easily available, cheaper chemical dyes.
Fabric Monde works with a small women's cooperative called Charaka to take the natural dye products being produced there to make their mark in the world markets. All these varieties are very distinctly identified with its Pastel color range. The dull finish light shades typically go well with the office wear fashion or casual dressing style. Today, this type of fashion is catching up in the US, EU regions. Some south east Asian countries also saw demand in this range. Connecting to the right client with the right product has been our forte and this gave the women send their hand-made love across borders seamlessly.
The unit produces more than 150 varieties of products which makes it one of the largest natural dyeing units in India. It deals with an integrated process that includes preloom, loom and post loom in addition with yarn dyeing, weaving,tailoring, screen printing, block printing and embroidery. Every year women celebrates “utsav” where many thinkers, artists take part and share their thoughts which helps in exposing the women weavers to get a great exposure on how can they better their work. The idea of mindful consumerism is the basis of the organization and hence makes the product cater to only a niche market although its production capacity is 30000 meters per month.
In the last decade, it was heartening to see how the world has been adopting to more green and natural products. Its time we understand the fact that Nylon and rayon used to make our t-shirts are made of plastics which are entering in the form of micro-fibres into the oceans and then into our own bodies through sea-foods. This is only causing more problems to our younger generations already.
Its time we switch to more soothing, comfortable and stylish natural clothes !!!
Its time the world adopts machine-free ‘Natural Fashion’ !!!
- By Jyothi
'Ragi Kana' - The cultural hub ...
Drawing authentic hand-made products from nook & corner of the country
Amidst the traffic filled roads and hussle-bussle of busy lives at IT parks, in the Silicon valley of India - Bangalore, an endeavor is being made to create a wholesome and meaningful experience around the idea of produdcts being maufactured at rural places. This culture hub called 'Ragi Kana' is turning into a weekly market where authentic products can be available for the public. The idea is to showcase some of the best and trusted handloom and agriculture product companies in an environment that also offers a glimpse into life on a farm.
Friends of Handloom presents - Panel Discussion
Ragi Kana, Gottigere, Bangalore
Fabric Monde works with Ragi Kana to bring all the authentic Handloom & Khadi players from the country to one hub at Bangalore. Beginning on 12th May, 2017, the effort has paid off where players from the following categories have taken the stage -
- Natural Dyed Handloom products
- Natural Dyed Khadi products
- Non-natural dyed (Chemical dyed) Handloom products
- Non-natural dyed (Chemical dyed) Khadi products
Apart from this, the panel discussion on Origin & the Future path of handlooms has been moderated by Jyothi - the founder of Fabric Monde. The panel was a consortium of eminent personalities who had in-depth knowledge and expertise in the field and also youngsters like NIFT designers who are making an effort today to contemporarize the lovely hand-woven textiles.
Taking Indian fabrics from the rural clusters to the urban hubs and eventually to the world markets is the prime objective of Fabric Monde !!!
A step towards this goal is 'Ragi Kana' !!!
- By Jyothi
Wear a saree… Ohh No!!!
One of the question that daunts me and every millennial is, why should we spend money to buy a handloom apparel like a saree? Which over the top is difficult to carry and go on with your day to day work which involves sprinting over zebra crossings and running to catch a movie for which you are late to because of the traffic of Bangalore.
I have never intentionally considered making a traditional saree a part of my daily wardrobe, not until I heard Mrs. Chandra Jain speak. She is a 60 year old women who ardently promotes weavers and she proudly explained the rich heritage of her 20 year old ilkal saree which she paired with a back less Jaipur blouse. I had to admit that she was looking stunning, trendier and hotter than me in my luxury branded dress. There is an air of confidence around her- the way she is proudly displaying her saree is a treat to watch.
This small experience gave me a new perspective towards handloom saree. Our nation has always been famous for its abundance of textile fiber and its rich cultural heritage. Tradition is not old and bad it’s mere repetition of stuff which makes us feel good. It’s about wearing a unique handmade saree and feeling good about being yourself. There is nobody like me and so is my hand woven saree. Also, the Saree which unique to our nation is not a mere hindrance and restricts your movement. There is an amazing versatility to saree – it can become an umbrella to protect ourselves and our loved ones from the sun, it can become a basket to carry stuff & it can become a towel when you need one (of course in an emergencyJ).
Chanda Kochhar - CEO of ICICI Bank
Indya Nooyi - CEO of PepsiCo
A saree needn’t be just limited to festivals and marriages. All these bold and beautiful ladies have worn a saree proudly to an office, to an address and to walk the red carpet. A handloom saree gives one the comfort to wear daily because of the gentle fabric and free from any irritable chemicals.
I think it’s time we put an end to our boxed thinking about saree and take inspiration form the several ladies to embrace this rich culture and unique identity of ours and give it a place in our weekly wardrobe.
- By Hema
Meet the Blogging Team
A dreamer, loves to travel and enjoys arts !
Incorrigible Optimist, she's the team's motivator !
Intern - Digital Marketing
Loves to read and curious to learn everything that comes way !
Intern - Digital Marketing
Loves food and blogs about Biryanis !