BENGALURU : Did you know, when Jennifer Lopez sashayed down the runway in her jungle print Versace dress, paying homage to her iconic green grammy look, the embroidery on that dress was done by artisans in Mumbai? “Its rarely acknowledged, but luxury European brands depend heavily on Indian craftsmen ship to bring their creations to life,” says- Indian origin, New York-based, conscious luxury designer Roopa Pemmaraju. In a series of social media posts, she urges global fashion houses to step up and support Indian ateliers and their artisans who have played a pivotal part in the creation of their garments.
Our couture-level karigars are the backbone of our fashion industry and are integral supply chain for many international fashion houses like Gucci, Valentino and Dior. “The process of creating design on garments is incomplete without skilled karigars. Organisations big and small, that create pret and couture are dependent on them. Artisans are the hands to the designer’s vision,” says ace designer Raj Shroff.
His textile-based, ever-evolving brand Ravage, is synonymous for its signature asymmetrical cuts and appliqué work. Sharing time between Bengaluru and parts of West Bengal, textile revivalist/artist Ron Datta, founder of Fatherland realised that the concern during lockdown was to help his weavers stay afloat. “Most of our communications happened mostly over phone and through courier. This was a very new method of working we’ve adopted since last year.
We haven’t been sitting with the weavers like before, but we could look into the weaving videos and progress on our work,” says Dutta. With a mission to promote and preserve ethically made, organic and sustainable hand block printed fabrics, Tharangini, Bengaluru’s oldest textile studio was established in 1977.
Having worked with various brands globally including Story Mfg and Anthropologie, they are the first artisan studio in India to earn ISO 26000 certification for social and environmental responsibility. “After the first wave and the monsoon, we were able to restore full production only towards the end of 2020. The second wave has now put us back in lockdown.
During this time we were able to get vaccines and medical insurance for all of the artisans above the age of 45. With delayed production, and disrupted supply chains, and the onset of the monsoon again, our hope is that we tide through our 44th year,” says founder Padmini Govind. The New York Times recently reported that Indian fashion artisans faced extreme distress in this pandemic.
With no demand, orders cancelled and stockpiles of inventory, the custodians of India’s rich art find their livelihoods at an absolute standstill. The survival of our craft clusters stands critical to our economy as the textile industry is the second largest source of employment in our country with a workforce of approximately 22 lakh craftsmen. Most homegrown fashion brands work with artisans and local talent. In supporting them, we contribute to the growth of the indigenous economy and ensure our native creativity survives. There has never been a better time to step up, support and stand vocal for local!