The Indian Handloom and its many lovable forms
The fiery Indian Minister, Smriti Irani is used to the limelight. Sometimes for the right reasons, sometimes for the wrong ones. When she was made the Textile minister in a recent cabinet reshuffle, Smriti was the target of several jibes and memes that have ranged from mildly derisive to wildly sexist.
Yet, Smriti turned the tide in her favor with her hugely successful Twitter campaign -- #IWearHandloom -- a move aimed at drawing attention to the handloom history and heritage that is unique to India in many ways.
Social Media surged in response to her campaign that she kicked off with a picture of herself in a blue handloom silk saree from Bihar. Everyone from celebrities to the common man gave a thunderous response and joined in her campaign by bringing attention to the source of the attire they wore.
The Indian handloom industry is very enviable for the range of colors, motifs, weaves and textures it offers. However, it has taken a beating due to the long and arduous processes involved in traditional methods making it commercially unviable in the face of the new, more efficient mechanical looms. Tags and trends like the ones we saw yesterday on the National Handloom Day do a great deal to revive this wonderful art form.
Here are some of the raging trends in the handloom industry -- and some must-have pieces in every wardrobe, even non-Indian ones.
Saris: The sari saw a mini-resurgence last year with the #100sareepact that began as a simple friendly pact between two friends who promised to wear sarees twice a week for the whole year; just to get the dust off their lovely saris in their wardrobes. It soon became such a raging hit that thousands of women from across the world joined the pact and developed a new adoration for the innumerable styles, textures, patterns and weaves from every corner of India. Handloom saris are a particular favorite. India has about 3-4 special weaves that are unique to every State.
Salwar-Kameez: This traditional 3-piece garment( that includes a long colorful scarf as an accessory), considered more common in North India has claimed its own place in every woman's wardrobe for its ease of wear, use and particularly comfy fit. Several styles have emerged over the years. The churidars(that come with bangle-like layers at the legs), the patialas(loose pants), even kurta tops paired with snug jeans are certain popular combinations. Anarkali suits give a new fashion spin to Indian ethnic wear, with their large flairs and flowy patterns making them a preferred option for glamorous, festive occasions like weddings. They are also a hot favorite among pregnant women.
Jackets, Scarves, Skirts: For those on the wall about going all Indian with their outfits, there are several other options like these extremely fashionable scarves and jackets that can be paired with anything -- even the most scraggy jeans and still look ready for the fashion ramp. Handloom skirts look mind-blowingly elegant with lovely indigos and handmade motifs running through them.
Bandhgalas: The men are not to be left behind from all this awesomeness. They have their own favorite high-fashion accessory called the Bandhgala -- a short jacket that has been embraced by the likes of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jeff Bezos. The handloom ones have a finish that can put a Tux to shame.
Sherwanis: Sherwanis are a staple in Indian weddings. They can range from simple, comfy cotton ones to embellished silk in bold colors. With men being seen in limited colors until recently, Sherwanis bring in a burst of freshness and color to any occasion.
The above list is not even touching the tip of the iceberg with regard to the variety, range, and style of textiles that Indian handlooms are capable of. Entire lifetimes have been dedicated to studying and exploring them and yet the patterns and weaves keep coming up like waves in an ocean. Only, these waves are more than welcome!
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