Craft No.1 - Handloom Day - 7th Aug

Making a Handloom Sari

Today is a day of recognising the skills of an ancient craft still thriving today. Making handloom saris is a traditional textile art which is very important to the sustainability of rural communities in India. The process of making has not changed much in 10,000 years and each part of the process from harvesting, dyeing and weaving is a specialised skill in its own right. Handloom provides work, infrastucture and education to entire communities and family businesses. A single handloom sari can take 2-3 days to make and looking at this beautiful video you can appreciate why. 

There have been constant struggles by the handloom industry fighting against the governments attempts to loosen the protection of handloom to include the more mechanical method of powerloom. This would damage the future of this industry. 

The sari is celebrated and worn by millions of women in India and around the globe. To preserve the appreciation and wearing of sari and therefore the appreciation of good quality saris like those made by handloom means broadening the appeal of sari for the younger generation. I am new to sari and still learning how to wear it and bring it into my everyday life. I now love my saris and feel I can wear sari with anything in my wardrobe, anywhere and at anytime of the year. I have discovered beautiful imagery of sari captured by the hottest image makers who portray a modern fresh image of the woman in a sari making it more accessible. The more the more we can broaden the appeal of the sari, the more we can inspire the generations of the future to wear sari and appreciate the future of the people who make them.

Sari company Raw Mango have teamed up with photographer Ashish Shah to make a series of videos on 'The Faces of Handloom'. These videos portray the community they have created with their handloom business employing more than 450 people. "Raw Mango is not just about the designs but about a larger program that has managed to uplift an entire community by creating a new value for an existing and ignored product."

See videos here:

Maku Textiles are another young company breathing fresh air of design into the world of handweaving. Designer Santanu Das and Chirag Ghandi has formed a sustainable fashion company paying their craftspeople fair wages and promotes their skills.

I find handloom exciting as it holds the connection of the maker to the wearer and I feel this is a dialogue we will be having more and more in the future. It is this connection to what we wear that has been lost in disposable fashion. Awareness campaigns such as Handloom Day give us that connection back; completes the circle of maker to wear, breathes fire into our fashion; gives us meaning to what we wear close to us and make us want to protect and appreciate those many people whose skills produce the beautiful things we wear and to shop consciously.