Hyderabad | 15th August 2020: Why not promote Handloom School Uniforms to help weavers?’ asks Gaurang Shah, Fashion Designer and Textile Revivalist while participating in a conversation, ‘The Handmade Life—Survival and Revival of Indian Handlooms” organised by FICCI Ladies Organisation(FLO), Hyderabad Chapter in commemoration of National Handloom Day that was celebrated Indiawide recently.

Mr. Gaurang Shah was in virtual conversation on Friday evening with Ms. Madhu Sood, Consultant—Indian Textiles, Design Innovation, Curator, Textile Researcher.

Gaurang urged the Union Textile Ministry as well all the State Governments to consider introducing Handloom School Uniforms. Handlooms are any time better than Polyester and Terrycot Shirts. The fabric is easily washable and available abundantly. And every State has a varied range of weaves and textiles suited to the climate of the region, he elaborated.

We can even extend it for Uniforms to employees working in both Government and Private sectors. The fabric breathes well, lasts long, Gaurang Shah added.

Gaurang shared his journey, his early childhood passion for Indian Sarees. He also explained about his ambitious Raja Ravi Varma project. It was an attempt to show the world the capabilities of Indian Weavers, he added.

Speaking further, Gaurang said that the Saree is a beautiful garment. ‘Why copy the West when we have a wonderful fabric like Handloom?’ he asked? People in the West are very good at marketing, which we lack in India. It is negligible here.

I take inspiration from anything that I do in my day to day life. I feel very strongly that we need to create something new every day, he revealed, when asked about his design inspiration.

Giving her opening remarks, Ms. Madhu Sood, the moderator of the conversation gave an elaborate history of Indian Traditional Handlooms. The Indian Traditional Handlooms are probably the oldest textiles in the world, she observed. It keeps us cool in summer and warm in winter. Indians knew the art of weaving even 5000 years ago, she stated, as she narrated the historical heritage of our Handlooms. The world learnt the art of weaving and dyeing from us. India has over 43 lakh weavers. But, they are living in poor conditions. We will have to change this, she said.

She explained why handlooms seem expensive. They are expensive because of the procedures involved – dyeing, spinning, quality of yarn and the time consumed in producing the fabric. All these together make it a little expensive but given the feel, comfort, look and its power to empower, it is hardly expensive, she explained.

Earlier, giving her welcome address, Ms. Usharani Manne, Chairperson of FLO Hyderabad said that Indian handlooms are much more than just textiles. They are a representation of our unique cultural heritage. They hold a mirror to our social ethos. The spinning wheel was a touchstone of the Indian independence movement and became an indelible image of the peace-loving peoples of India. And the loom…it is an enduring symbol of our strive for self-reliance.

Speaking further Usharani added, despite the onslaught of automated machines, handlooms and handicrafts continue to represent India’s soft power. As the second-largest source of employment generation after agriculture. It is all the more relevant to us at FICCI Ladies Organization, that 70% of the workforce in this sector is made up of women!

Chintakindi Mallesham, the recipient of Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India for his invention, Laxmi Asu machine that reduced the efforts required by weavers in Pochampally, shared details about the struggle of weavers, his mother and what prompted him to invent the Machine that took him 7 long years to create.

The spinning which took five hours now takes one and half hour and supports more looms. It reduces effort, improves efficiency and productivity, because of which the youth are getting back into their age-old profession — weaving. Asu Machine that helped reduce time, helped many young girls to pursue studies, he shared.

Master Weavers Mamatha Reddy and Rajesh Kishore shared their insights into the industry. Mamatha, a mathematics graduat turned Kalamkari revivalist, shared that she started her journey by the trial and error method. She has been working for the revival of Kalamkari Art which is dying. I started with cushion covers, dupattas and migrated to sarees she shared.

When you buy a Kalamkari saree, you are not buying a piece of fabric but you are buying a piece of art she said. She explained the differentiating factors in identifying authentic kalamkari from the screen printed version.

Ms. Priya Gazdar, Hon. Secretary and Ms. Uma Chigurupati, Sr. Vice Chairperson, Past Chairs and Members from different FLO Chapters from across India participated.

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