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Ahimsa Silk in Jharkhand

Fashion designer Archana Kochhar has collaborated with Jharkhand Silk Textile and Handicraft Development Corporation to promote ahimsa silk for her next collection

Silk has always been an opulent fabric to go to for special occasions. But for the consumer with a heart, the silkworms killed with boiling water would not go down too well.

Archana Kochhar (right) at the Jharcraft workshop in JharkhandArchana Kochhar (right) at the Jharcraft workshop in Jharkhand

A great option would be to try ahimsa silk that is produced without harming the silkworm. To promote this cause, fashion designer Archana Kochhar has collaborated with Jharkhand Silk textile and Handicraft Development Corporation (Jharcraft) to create a collection made from the non-violent fabric.

Kochhar (right) guided the weavers to make a few changes in the weaving pattern and also adopt a new colour palette
Kochhar (right) guided the weavers to make a few changes in the weaving pattern and also adopt a new colour palette

“At the beginning of the year, the Indian textile ministry had approached designers to promote few dying arts and crafts of India. To be a part of this movement, we had taken up a few projects with an aim to complete them one at a time.

One of which is the ahimsa silk,” says the Mumbai-based designer. Kochhar visited the looms where the silk fabric is handwoven, and guided the weavers to make a few designs and colour changes to meet contemporary style requirements. The processing of this particular silk in the Jharcraft looms is done by female artisans, who form 80% of the workforce.

“These women work at the looms after finishing the chores at homes at different times of the day and earn as much as Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 a month. Our aim is to promote the fabric enough to raise their income to as much as Rs 8,000 a month,” shares Kochhar.

Kochhar is currently working on a collection that uses this silk, and will be participating in the Mercedez Benz New York Fashion Week in September.

What is ahimsa silk?

The process of extracting the silk thread involves cultivating silkworms and then dissolving the cocoons in boiling water when the worms are in the pupa stage.

Silk extracted from the cocoons
Silk extracted from the cocoons

The production of ahimsa silks involves waiting for the caterpillars to finish the cycle and leave the cocoon as a moth. Each cocoon is checked individually to ensure that the moth has escaped before the silk thread is spun. Kochhar tells us that though this process produces 60% of amount of silk as compared to the regular method, it meets the purpose of fashion for a cause.

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