Silken Treasures

, Fashion

From smart dresses to resplendent sarees, textiles from Jharkhand took centre stage at the fashion week in Delhi this year, says Team Shubh Yatra

A few years ago, reputed international luxury brands like Gucci, Tod’s Fendi, Burberry, Roberto Cavalli and Salvatore Ferragamo experimented with traditional textiles from India to create unique designs for a special project. The iconic Burberry trench coat was crafted in Maheshwari silk, a bag from Tod’s was made with Kanchipuram weaves and patola from Gujarat found form in a Gucci gown. The designs proved a point – Indian handcrafted textiles may be manufactured locally but have a global appeal. The fact was reiterated at the recently held Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Autumn/Winter 2017, where handloom fabrics ruled the ramp, with silk from Jharkhand in the spotlight. The state partnered with the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) to highlight the indigenous beauty of its crafts, specially its exquisite silks. Jharkhand is one of India’s largest producers of tussar and kuchai silks and four design labels – Rina Dhaka, Shaina NC, Shruti Sancheti, and Dabiri by Divya and Ambika Jain – showcased contemporary designs created with these fabrics. Sunil Sethi, president, FDCI, said, “Associating with Jharkhand is in continuation of our commitment to preserve crafts. We look for unique ways to enable this objective.”

Shruti Sancheti, who contemporised tussar silk to suit a global audience, said, “The inspiration behind my collection was the diverse and enriching tribal culture of Jharkhand. As it’s a mineral-rich state and boasts many natural reserves, I was inspired by earthy colours like teak, mahogany and ecru and didn’t dye the fabrics. I used them in their natural state and colour, as they had a unique sheen. And while the essence of the collection was tribal, the styling was contemporary.”

The surface ornamentation was restricted to the running stitch, which finds its own version in Jharkhand, much like the kantha from Bengal. Sancheti gave a unique twist to surface ornamentation using geometric motifs and then deconstructing them, resulting in a worn-out feel.

Designer Rina Dhaka, too, used tussar in her collection, but gave it a modern touch with stripes. “The chhau dancers of the state inspired me. They sport bright colours in their costumes and I incorporated similar pop shades with tassels in my garments, toning them down with creams. What I showcased has been conceptualised by the weavers of Jharkhand. And while I was in constant touch with them for over three months, it was they who gave birth to this line,” says Dhaka, giving credit to artisans from the state. The simple silk fabric was given a glamorous touch by designer duo Divya and Ambika Jain. They embellished the tussar fabric with gotapatti embroidery. Their collection, titled ‘Rumi’s Message of Romance’, had models sashaying down the runway in stunning combinations of white, off-white and gold. K Ravikumar, managing director, Jharcraft, a government of Jharkhand undertaking formed to promote the textiles and handicrafts of the state, said, “We produce 80 per cent of India’s muga silk and also have expert traditional weavers. We are leveraging these two factors to create employment and a sustainable market environment to attract the niche consumer.”

Jharkhand is mulling aggressive initiatives to promote and market its textile treasures to help its large indigenous community of craftspeople. “Last year, we launched Jharkhand Textile Apparel & Footwear Policy with a progressive vision and takeaways from various other state policies. We are aggressively following the concept of Make in India in the state. In the long term, Jharkhand is set to become the definitive destination for employment with the best use of available resources, and promises best returns on investments to investors who are looking forward to business opportunities in our state,” summed up Sunil Barnwal, secretary, Industries, government of Jharkhand.

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