Years back, during the struggle for Indian independence, many movements were launched by Mahatma Gandhi to secure India’s indigenous workers and promote self-reliance. The Gandhian Swadeshi movement resonated with the same idea of promoting Indian goods and boycotting foreign ones. This gave Indian craftsmen a chance to put forward their skills and earn their livelihood.
This also helped in promoting Indian culture and crafts that inculcated only in our country. Today, after years, history is repeating itself as Indian designers are echoing the same ethos and promoting atma nirbharta. Also, because the Pandemic has slowed down the markets that affect these clusters of craft. “The craft clusters of India are a unique combination of heritage, skill and dynamism. The products we create through our collaborative work in these clusters are both unique and contemporary and are in huge demand internationally as indigenous crafts are now slowly languishing world over and very few countries have living crafts.
This presents us with a huge opportunity to explore the international markets seeking handmade textiles and craft products. For us, the most important is to be able to generate sustainable employment for our artisans during this time,” says designer Anavila Misra who works around 200 weavers in Phulia region of west Bengal, 12 families in Jharkhand and around 20 printers in Gujarat.
#VocalforLocal #SupportIndianGoods #MakeInIndia are the hashtags of our times. The Fashion Design Council of India that leads the fashion world in our country started a fund to support artisans during the Covid19 scare, they also started hashtags that are helping in spreading awareness across the global.
Many designers such as Manish Malhotra have been doing so for a while now, he supports hundreds through his Project Mijwan. Designer Anita Dongre, Anavila Misra, Rina Singh of Eka, Gautam Gupta and many more have been standing by the artisans. “Gandhi ji in his various educational papers had emphasised the importance of imbibing craft-based learning as a part and parcel of literary education, across India. In modern times, where clothing and fashion are two different commodities, perhaps have always been, and the aspirational aspect of fashion goes beyond geographical boundaries, the craft-based products seemingly appear unfashionable and old world to the young customer. In such times, to hand hold a craft and experiment with re-creating the techniques with modern/contemporary design aesthetics, so that it reaches a larger audience, is what we have successfully delivered,” says Rina Singh who adds a contemporary touch to Indian crafts and fabrics.
Many have also taken local global. They have been promoting Indian crafts in countries like the Middle East, United States of America and more. “The western market, especially Europe, has an eye for the fine, natural and handmade. Working with craftsmen to create collections that make our craft not only regain popularity in our own country but spread awareness across the globe through local products is definitely a proud thing,” says designer Yadvi Agarwal of Yavi.