The colours of real India 

Long before sustainability became a buzzword, Chinar Farooqui’s clothing brand, Injiri, has been celebrating indigenous weaves and ancient Indian handloom traditions for well over a decade

Published: 22nd August 2021 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th August 2021 12:10 PM   |  A+A-

Fashion enthusiasts browsing through the styles Injiri works with will figure out how the label follows the language of how traditional Indian clothes were cut and stitched.

Fashion enthusiasts browsing through the styles Injiri works with will figure out how the label follows the language of how traditional Indian clothes were cut and stitched.

Express News Service

It was a 2005 trip to Ladakh to document the local crafts of the region that fashioned the creative perspective of Chinar Farooqui, a trained painter from Baroda’s MS University. While her course at NID initiated her into finding an application for all the visual language she developed with her work at MSU, her own definition of design evolved after her Ladakh experience. It also birthed the ideology and aesthetics that have been the driving force behind Injiri, the sustainable label Farooqui launched in 2009.

Recalls the designer, “The craft documentation project deeply impacted my understanding of how to work with design. Ladakh was my first study of a place where craft is a way of life. From local wool weaving techniques to textiles used in monasteries and religious spaces, we studied how textile was such a key element in people’s lives.” Farooqui and her friend documented footwear made from textile leftovers and grass at a local shoe shop.

“We delved into local textiles, most of which were made in people’s homes. Weaving in Ladakh isn’t an occupation, it’s a part of household activities. The cloth used at home is woven either by family members or the village weaver. Throughout the process, the division of labour is evident, which also determines the loom and fibre used. Women weave soft fibres like sheep wool whereas men weave with yak hair and coarse goat hair.”

Those enriching few days made Farooqui, born and brought up in Rajasthan, grasp how textile was integrated within people’s lives, a narrative prominent in the design vocabulary of Injiri, which celebrates traditional weave and craft techniques of India, and where mood stories are reflective of many processes. Making apparel for women and textiles for the home, the label focuses on sustainable usage of materials even as they create global, contemporary silhouettes using traditional Indian handwoven fabrics that transcend fashion calendars or trends. The core idea is to craft handmade products that speak the language derived from learning and studying ethnic traditions across the world.

“Since our inception, the idea of building relationships with artisans has been central to our functioning. The aim has been to allow craftsmen to work as collaborators,” elaborates Farooqui, whose journey—an organic one—has strived for a balance between her love for Indian textiles and quest for beauty in colour, proportion and form.

Fashion enthusiasts browsing through the styles Injiri works with will figure out how the label follows the language of how traditional Indian clothes were cut and stitched. “Seasonal changes in fashion are irrelevant to us. We’d rather construct an Indian kurta with very minimal wastage of fabric and every season explore and develop on that idea,” says Farooqui. The team creates new motifs based on study of older motifs and placements to ensure they sit well with the vocabulary of the traditional forms.

The complex yet creatively satisfying arts of tie and dye and extra weft weaving from Kutch in Gujarat, jamdaani from Bengal, weaves from Maheshwar and a whole lot of other indigenous influences and techniques form the backbone of Injiri’s collections. Their dream project with indigo was a difficult one as dyeing requires extreme skill. The label collaborated with several craftspeople steeped in various techniques for that. The Khatri dyers in Gujarat, proficient with clamp as well as tie and dye, helped Injiri achieve beautiful work. There was also a capsule on jamdaani weaves in natural indigo. “This was an ambitious project as dyeing is done by experts after which the yarn is sent to weavers to set up the loom.”

These weaves and crafts are labour-intensive and provide work to artisans, explains Farooqui. “For instance, jamdaani, a weaving technique that forms patterns with discontinuous extra weft inlay, allows us to draw many forms on the loom. It is important that the memory of the process remains on the fabric. But we ensure the final product is a fine marriage of the spontaneous and the classic. This would not have been possible without the relentless hard work of all the artisans associated with Injiri.”


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