Indian Craft

Design, Designers, Fashion, Luxury

Indian Craft: A Bumpy Ride on the High Streets of Fashion

Narayan, Sarika

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One can not overstate the contribution traditional craft skills make to weaving, printing and ornamentation in contemporary fashion apparel and personal and home accessories in India. However, as being someone who is particularly fond of hand crafted products and a compulsive shopper of the same; many apprehensions come to my mind. Why is it that so many craft forms, alive and vibrant as they have been over the years are really deadpan and colorless and it requires a particular designer / fashion body to really elevate it to the status of it being an exciting fashion statement?

The craft skill of khari is a case in point. The so called 'ethnic', 'crafty', 'alternative ' consumer has been patronizing it for years, albeit through boring kurtas bought at monotonous 'craft' Blind School exhibitions. Yet it took designer labels to really contemporize it interestingly so that khari printed garments now find their way to the wardrobe of the trendiest style icons of today! Another example is chikan embroidery. Granted that in the 1980s, many NGOs promoting traditional craft skills as means of income generation for low income artisans pulled it out from the depths of degradation and gave it a new lease of life but how come they still make their outfits in the same, boring shapes that they did a decade ago? Again it is only when chikan was adopted by big labels and adapted to suit contemporary taste that it has been incorporated into high fashion garment ranges. It is healt...
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