Famous designers and labels from different parts of the country, including Ritu Kumar and Neeta Lulla, came together on Tuesday to lend a hand to handloom weavers of Varanasi.
Seen as an attempt to revive the dwindling market of Banarasi handloom products, including saris, the programme is a brainchild of BJP leader Shaina NC, who herself is a designer. She is being supported by the Union Textile Ministry and the Fashion Development Council of India (FDCI) in her efforts.
A meeting between designers and local weavers, including master weavers and manufacturers, was held at a hotel in Varanasi — the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Union MoS (Independent Charge) for Textile Santosh Gangwar and Development Commissioner (Handloom) Alok Kumar were also present in the meeting called by the Banarasi Vastra Udyog Association (BVUA).
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Shaina said: “Currently, over 50 designers are supporting this cause, which is a part of the ‘Make in India’ campaign. We want to take this number to 100 or even more. There was good coordination between the weavers and master weavers and designers. This will help handloom products here get the much needed market for revival.”
The designers present at the meeting included the likes of Ritu Kumar, Vanita Bose and Rina Dhaka. Neeta Lulla also marked her presence through representatives. Besides, nearly two dozen famous designers have expressed their solidarity with the cause of weavers. They include J J Valaya, Tarun Tahliani, Vikram Phadnis, Wendell Rodricks, Rohit Bal, Rakesh Thakore, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Mark Robinson and David Abraham. Apart from designers, representatives from online e-commerce sites like Amazon.com were also present in the meeting.
“This was a brainchild of Shaina NC. Over several meetings, she suggested that bringing designers in touch with weavers will help them contemporarise their products,” said Vaibhav Kapoor, head of Yarn Development Committee of BVUA. He added that Ritu Kumar was already working with Banarasi weavers.
“Traditional Banarasi saris are associated with the women of a certain age. We have to get our manufacturers and weavers to think how to make their products attractive to the youths in the age group of 18 to 35. That is a new market,” he added.
BVUA head Ashok Dhawan said: “It was no ordinary meeting. I am confident that this will yield positive results in the near future…”