Issue #006, Autumn, 2020 ISSN: 2581- 9410
Introduction – Is there a need to educate handloom weavers?
Handloom weaving in India is extremely varied and diverse, having evolved over centuries. M.N. Upadhyay in his book Handicrafts of India famously wrote: “To write about Indian handicrafts is almost like writing about the country itself. So vast, complex, colourful, and yet with a simplicity and charm, difficult to attain under comparable conditions.” Despite being categorised as a “sunset industry,” weaving continues to employ 3.2 million individuals in India. However, reeling under the pressure of machine-made goods, the future of the sector, sadly, remains questionable. In the last decade alone, over a million weavers left the profession.
But why this downward trend? Before the global pandemic, people envisioned a global wave of sustainable fashion and a burgeoning global handicrafts industry. The global handicrafts market was reportedly worth USD 663.9 billion in 2019
, expanding at a rate of 11% annually, based on “consumer and company interest in sourcing locally produced artisan goods, greater international and domestic tourism, increased global interest in home decorating, and increased willingness to pay a premium for distinctive goods
. ” With such an optimistic demand report, why was the reality of the supply side so bleak? The answer lies in the way the traditional handloom market in...