To India, with love: An ode to a land of diverse textiles, embroideries and weaves
A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and souls of its people, said Mahatma Gandhi. And India is known for its rich culture and heritage across the globe. With an array of textiles, embroideries and weaves spread across its 29 states, on the country’s 70th Republic Day, we spoke to fashion designers, who shared which Indian designs, prints or weaves according to them, defined this vast country’s best.
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla
We were born in a free and democratic India. She is a limitless well of inspiration, mood and meaning. It is therefore impossible to pick a fabric, weave or design which is an ode to her multiple realities. We see every indigenous textile, embroidery and weave as an atom of this diverse and distinctive land. Whether it is the stark simplicity of homespun khadi, rich with socio-political history or the magnificent embroideries — chikankari and zardozi, the richness of silk spun into saris such as Kanjeevaram and tanchoi, the pristine beauty of mulmul and Kerala cotton, and the sumptuousness of Benarasi brocade. Each of these is India, and every one
Weaves or hand-woven products are not just sustainable, but also celebrate culture, heritage and tradition of India. Raw Mango works with over 400 karigars in the regions of Chanderi, Varanasi, West Bengal and Rajasthan. The definition of India should be focused on the development and longevity of our craft, textiles and heritage. It’s not just about fashion, textile and handloom, but the way forward is to speak to as many communities and recognise the value of our weaves on both a regional and national scale.
As a citizen of a country that is known for its heritage textiles, it would not be right for me to pick specific designs, prints or weaves that define the country. The art of weaving, dyeing and printing can be found in all 29 states, all practised with their own unique techniques and patterns. Each fabric is identified with its region and inspired by nature, architecture of temples and forts, rural life and geometric patterns that surround them. India is home to the world’s best craftsmen with talent pouring out of their imagination on cloth. And with that talent, we offer the world Bandhani, Patola, Benarasi, Kalamkari, Dabu print, Bagru print, Khari print, Bagh print and so many more in the textile market.
Designs that incorporate our rich history of handcrafted textiles in a contemporary way reflect a modern India. From the humble handspun khadi to the silk brocade, our myriad homegrown printing techniques give consumers an endless selection of embroideries. Design in India today is proud, responsible and also mindful of our expansive heritage. Our differentiator is that we can make clothes with a soul rooted in India but a spirit that is more global. I find a curated jewel palette soaked in colour separates us from the rest of the international fashion landscape when it isn’t overtly ethnic. No one plays with drape like we do. Coupled with silhouettes that retain the shapes that India knows best, like the kurta, tunic and roomy bottoms is the voice of a new India.
Khadi as a fabric is the best and ideal example of a textile that epitomises India and the harmony of all the states. It is not specific to any ethnicity and is a versatile, yet universal choice of fabric for many. The sustainability and organic quality of this textile adds on to its appeal. Handwoven and handcrafted in India, it is a hallmark material with a stamp of ‘Made in India’.
The quintessential Nehru jacket has evolved to be such a modern design for both men and women. Be it in an Indian weave or a Kalamkari print, its structure and shape add a whiff of modernity to any outfit, while still being reminiscent of our well-deserved freedom as a country and our development ever since.