THE CHINESE have now attacked the exclusive domain of the city’s artisans—the Chikan garments.
While the city is getting ready to showcase Chikankari work of the artisans at another Lucknow Mahotsava, some Chinese apparel manufacturers recently flooded the city’s garment stores with look-alikes which pass off as original.
In 2004, the Japanese had unsuccessully attempted to copy Chikan designs on apparel to the shock of local exporters who later informed that the Japanese garment manufacturers could not manage copying the intricate designs using sophisticated machines.
However, in mainland China the copycats have been able to replicate Chikan designs on garments before dumping them in the Indian market as Pushpa Singh of the Network for Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (NEED) – an NGO working with Chikankari workers in the state explains: “A cursory glance at the Chinese garments would not surprise the customers as they look very similar to the original Chikan garments.
A closed look at the designs can bring out the difference between the fakes and the originals”. She said that the Chinese have come out with an attractive array of colours on the garments but it was clearly apparent from a closer look at the garments that the Chikan designs have been tried by the Chinese on their machines.
Singh said that some retailers of Chikan garments have been trying to pass off the Chinese garments as original in the local markets within the city. “There are kurtas available in the city which have designs which look similar to the Chikankari work on local artisans,” she said.
The Chinese makes of Chikan garments compete on the similar price points with the original garments. Not so long ago, NEED had applied for patenting the traditional Chikankari work to save the heritage art from being copied across the globe.
However, while the patenting process is still underway, the Chinese have already attacked Chikan artisans who in many decades are only just learning to avoid the middleman and export their garments to Europe, Middle East and the United States.