National Handloom Day, celebrated on August 7 every year, saw leading fashion experts come together to discuss possible opportunities and ways to create more jobs for weavers across India. The discussion, which initiated the hashtag #HandloomEveryday to urge people to adopt handloom for daily wear, took place at Crafts Museum in New Delhi, in collaboration with Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) and Ministry of Textiles.
It emphasised the need to go beyond dedicating just one day for handloom products and bringing into everyday fashion. Sunil Sethi, FDCI chairman, commented, “We have a 2,000-year-old legacy of handlooms and this sector employs over 43 lakh people. It is a revenue-driver that needs to be nurtured and resuscitated; on Handloom Day, we collectively pledge to replenish the loom. We support the Minister of Textiles, Smriti Irani and the office of DC (Handlooms) in their mission to take handlooms global and make it a lighthouse for New India.”
The panellists included the doyenne of the style world, Ritu Kumar, sari historian Rta Kapur Chishti, designers David Abraham and Madhu Jain, along with master-printer Ramkishore Chippa Derawala, who spoke on the topic ‘Can our Handloom Heritage of the Past be a Springboard to the Future?’ The panel reiterated that inventive designs, increased usage of natural fibres and updating the handloom sector as well as offering financial support and infrastructure, is the need of the hour.
Padma Shri recipient and designer Ritu Kumar remarked that India’s rich heritage of handloom differentiates us from the rest of the fashion world. “We can’t wish away 16 million handloom weavers or their skills and as master-weavers struggle to make ends meet, the handloom sector needs solid commercial backing,” she stressed.
FDCI had also curated a temporary exhibition of handloom crafts of several Indian states at the Crafts Museum on the occasion.
Textile designer David Abraham, part of the fashion brand Abraham & Thakore, also pointed out the sustainability aspect of handlooms. He said, “The textile industry is the second largest polluter in the world. Every garment factory is getting larger and more mechanised. The handloom weaver has the smallest environmental footprint. Speaking of fashion, handicrafts are the greatest form of luxury because it’s handmade and has limited pieces.”
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