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Textile traditions beckon Indian designers

Bandhej, zardozi, block printing, ikat, chikankari...the list of Indian textile crafts is long, but much of it is lost in the blitzkrieg of Western influences. Now a clutch of young Indian designers have begun...

fashion and trends Updated: Apr 12, 2010 14:57 IST

FashionBandhej, zardozi, block printing, ikat, chikankari...the list of Indian textile crafts is long, but much of it is lost in the blitzkrieg of Western influences. Now a clutch of young Indian designers have begun to fall back on the richness of age-old traditions.

"Today there are few takers for traditional weavers or craftsmen in India. Most of them have moved into some other business; so it has been a difficult process to locate them," designer Ashish of the label Virtues told IANS.

"Our clothes have strong Indian influences. We design clothes that use natural dyes, block prints, bandhej, Bhagalpuri silk and other handwoven garments for our line. We are happy with the kind of work we are doing. This is our forte," he added.

Designer Joy Mitra uses ikat prints and brocade in his saris, kurtas and shawls.

"Our country has so much to offer us. Right now we don't understand the importance of our traditional art. But when any international celebrity talks about it, we gear up and suddenly churn out a traditionally inspired clothing range," said Mitra.

Abhishek Ray from the design team of label Ekru feels young designers are trying to use a lot of Indian craftsmanship.

"I believe we all are doing our bit to revive Indian crafts. We use a lot of zardozi, threadwork and hand embroidery for our lines. It's just a matter of choice and demand," maintained Ray.

Ekru is a Kolkata-based label and Ray believes designers based in that city feel very close to Indian traditions and love to showcase those in their designs.

"I don't know what is what, but we feel closely associated with Indian culture. We love to experiment with our Indian crafts and shape them in Western silhouettes," he added.

In this case, the best example is of Sabyasachi Mukherjee who strongly feels for India's rich culture and doesn't like aping the West.

"It is a shame that designers are moving away from India's rich culture and heritage and aping the West for their creations. Most of them are influenced by French couture but they do not know what Indian couture is all about," Mukherjee had said.

Ritu Kumar, who has been in the industry for over 40 years, believes the trend she started decades ago should be continued by budding designers.

"We have a rich cultural heritage to boast of and we all should be proud of it. So, rather than taking inspiration from the Western world, it's better to look what we have got in our country, work on it and present it to the world," Kumar told IANS.

"Every state has something to offer, just imagine the bundle of inspirations and cultural heritage we have around us. We all should capitalise on this and show the world how culturally rich we are," she added.

Apart from Kumar, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Tarun Tahiliani and JJ Valaya have tried to keep dying Indian art in the reckoning. Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla revived traditional embroidery techniques - chikankari and zardozi - with their creations.