Independence Day 2020: Is India's past paving the future of fashion?

Published: 15 August, 2020 13:51 IST | IANS | New Delhi

Indian fashion inherently was organic; and in pre-colonial and colonial times it was a very strong voice for the country and it's culture

Khadi outfits in Lakme Fashion Week 2018. File Picture
Khadi outfits in Lakme Fashion Week 2018. File Picture

Ours is a country that reflects an inimitable kind of richness - that of arts, textiles and crafts. When it comes to natural fabrics, India was amongst the main textile hubs of the world before industrialisation took over.

Indian fashion inherently was organic; and in pre-colonial and colonial times it was a very strong voice for the country and it's culture. Indian textiles were sought after by the royal, rich and affluent across Europe and the Orient. Khadi became the symbol of the Nationalist movement and the Indian flag was supposed to feature the 'Charkri'. Mahatma Gandhi promoted "self-reliance" by spinning khadi, buying Indian-made goods only and doing away with English clothes for the non-cooperation movement. 74 years into Independence and we see echoes of this in the #makeinIndia initiative.

With the fashion industry being one of the largest polluters and a strain on resources, today, the world is once again looking forward to slow fashion, and turning it's eyes to India's immense potential. There are an astounding 24 lakh looms in the country, points out Sujata Biswas, an alumnus of IIFT Delhi and the co-founder of Suta which recently launched its exclusive handloom collection called Aapke Naam.

"The knowledge of crafting fabric from natural materials, intricate weaving practices and resourceful production processes are still alive amongst our weavers, who carry this priceless treasure forward and pass it down generation-to-generation. The comfort and the charms of hand-woven Indian textiles are unmatched," she tells IANSlife.

Renowned fashion designer Rina Singh says: "In the 60s and 70s we were definitely influenced by the bohemian culture present across the world, the hippie culture. Even the aristocracy that came with the British from photographs documented you can see the use of rich Indian textiles and embroidery in the clothing and light-weight breathable fabrics for dresses. Costume had a strong individualistic style with Indian characteristics."

She adds: "Indian cinema too was full of influences, whether it was in the way they draped the sari or wore bell bottoms with kurtas; retro-Indian styles will probably never go out of fashion. While it's not something that I would pursue in my work, I admire it for the sense of fashion that it brings." Singh has launched her label eka's first trans-seasonal CORE collection, featuring essential pieces in sustainable textiles, guided by ideals of comfort and timelessness.

Suta, the slow-fashion brand, has brought back saris as everyday attire with simple yet stunning drapes. Over 1500 weavers creating their line from all over India, a large part of their collections are handloom products.

Taniya Biswas, co-founders of Suta, said: "At Suta, it has always been our aim to bring traditional weaves to mainstream fashion by infusing modern sensibilities into it. The weaves and textiles are very versatile and become a great canvas for gorgeous designs that today's women identify with. We have grown from two weavers to 1500+ and we are bringing together a systematic approach for the amazing skills of these artisans to find relevance with the modern consumer."

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