HYDERABAD: India has an ancient history. The artworks from this land are varied and are an impression of the country’s social legacy. Craftsmen are at the centre of this heritage. Today, the fashion industry too employs many craftsmen. Handcrafted and high-quality garments are a relic of days gone by but Hyderabad-based designers have taken the initiative to provide sustainable and handcrafted fashion. They say that while supportability can be tied in with being cognizant and moral, it doesn’t require to forfeit style for profound quality.
For designer Archana Jaju, sustainability lies at the core of her eponymous label, which has always revolved around promoting Indian artisans and embracing the original techniques used to make fabrics. They work with artisans from various different craft clusters across India. “My brand is focused on bringing India’s fine craftsmanship into everyday clothing. The process, in turn, has helped in providing livelihoods to around 200 families. Among this variety of crafts used, the age-old tradition of Kalamkari is at the centre of the brand. We primarily make use of earthy colours such as indigo, mustard, black and green, all of which are extracted from natural sources,” says Archana.
Through a process of using organic dyes, hand-painted work and handwoven fabrics, Archana’s label aims to reduce the overall impact on the environment and ensure sustainability. This is a conscious approach to achieving the goal of optimal sustainability. “As inspiration strikes, we first define a broader topic to be explored. Then experimental research is carried out in synergy with artisans from various craft clusters. They are involved in all our design processes - from the creative to the execution of a collection with attention to minute details.”
The artisans have been working with the label for the past 20 years now. For their Revival ‘21 collection, which embraces the beauty of nature through the classic blend of Indian textiles with a fiercely feminine touch to it, they had worked with the artisans in Telangana. The pandemic, in a way, gave them an opportunity to work during such tough times, and they were completely involved in the process. The weavers they work with are from Sri Kalahasti, a small temple town at the border of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh near Tirupati. Some of them work at her workshop in Hyderabad.
Revival ‘21 focuses on the presence of contrasting colours and minimalistic forms that take inspiration from the surroundings around us. It is a convention of persistence and flexibility. “It symbolises the red-crowned cranes, a bird species that is best known for its grace, beauty and inextinguishable life. Being a representation of these birds, Revival consists of intricate embroidery details and a tranquil colour palette. Threads, sequins and mirror work, also play a vital role in bringing forth the beauty of this collection. It displays the cranes in their most beautiful and natural form. It also depicts a modern rendition of the traditional Kalamkari art, which holds a special place in this collection,” adds Archana.
Designer Falguni Shankar Gaidhane, an alumna of National Institute of Fashion Technology - Hyderabad, started her journey with handcrafted and tie-dye bags. Today, she has a label called Falguni Shankar. She had first explored all of these techniques on bags and started putting up stalls at flea markets in the city. Her designs reflect the amalgamation of fashion and indigenous art forms. She aims at reviving and implementing such indigenous techniques of art, albeit in a contemporary aesthetic.
Lakshmi Deepthi Pothineni, founder of Deep Thee, focuses on timeless curation of handcrafted clothing with attention to the details. “I like making pieces that you can pull out from your wardrobe anytime. We stick to only hand embroideries. We exclusively do the aari work on handloom fabrics. We aim to provide clothes that are worth the penny. Recently, we even started printing with our collection Nadiya.”