Story Tellers | 17 May 2017

Retro Rewind, The Desi Edition

Designers from the Indian fashion industry these days are on a mission, literally. Their mission is to revive traditional textiles and fabrics. From the eye-catching Bandhani from Bhuj to the subtle Chikankari from Lucknow, from the versatile Ikat from Telangana to the elegant Maheshwari from Madhya Pradesh, our heartland stores within itself a number of golden textile treasures. In earlier days, a Banarasi sari would be a prized possession in your wardrobe, but now you see the material on bags, crop tops, skirts and more. Let's look at some other popular but traditional fabrics and design styles that have got a much-needed do-over.


Ikat fabric owes its immense global footprint primarily to its unparalleled versatility and the sheer richness of its colors. Although hailing from various parts of Indonesia and Japan, the Indian ikat has multiple origins, some of which are Gujarat (Patola), Orissa (Sambalpur), and Andhra Pradesh (Pochampally). The bright and aesthetic designs make use of silk and cotton that is then dyed and hand-woven to make mesmerizing creations. From chic tops and jackets to funky footwear and bags from contemporary brands, this flexible fabric transcends all trends and conventions. The challenge for most Indian fabrics is to stand the test of time while preserving their heritage, in terms of popularity and malleability to changing trends. For most Indian designers, the endeavor has always been how to make an age-old art more relevant and accessible to today's market. Take celebrated designer Ritu Kumar for example, who has been running an Ikat revival project in Neopatna since 2015. During her journey, she was pleasantly surprised to discover the local artisan crafted wall hangings that were hung casually behind deities in temples, some of which bore the entire script of Gita Govinda - imagine the intricacy of that weave! Designers like Anita Dongre and Gaurang Shah swear by this innovative fabric.