Very rarely does the day arise when fashion and politics work hand-in-hand towards a common goal. Whatever your opinions—or, for that matter, mine—might have about the administration under Smriti Irani, her new stint in the textile ministry comes as a somewhat of a CPR to a sector that’s in dire need of resurrection. So when she took to social media to kick of the Selfie with Handloom campaign, it caught on like the wildfire it should be. We strongly suggest you join the bandwagon and show solidarity with the 43 lakh weavers this country calls its own.
Need a primer course in the basic weaves? Here’s a quick starter pack.
Named after the town in Madhya Pradesh, gossamer Chanderi weaves are akin to wearing woven air. The feather-light handloom fabrics are woven from either cotton, silk or a blend of the two. Because of the lightness of the fabric and the sheen of the yarn, the colours that result from the dyeing process range from pastels to light jewel tones.
Hailing from Kota in Rajasthan, these lightweight weaves in either cotton or silk are near-transparent. Characterised by a checkered pattern (colloquially called khats ), the fabric is woven on pitlooms with very-fine yarn. In order to fortify the thread and retain the crispness of the fabric, the yarn is soaked in rice water before weaving.
Sure you already know about this coarse, golden tinted silk but lay your hands on a Baghalpuri weave and you’ve struck gold. For the sake of perspective, here’s a fact – according to Asian Society of Entrepreneurship Education and Development, there are about 30,000 wearers in Baghalpur alone who help generate an annual revenue of Rs 100 crores, 50 per-cent of which comes from exports alone.
Also known as Assam silk, this one is a gem of a find. Moonga silk is most notably distinguished by its beige colour because it cannot be dyed or bleached on account of its poor porosity. If you stumble upon it, buy it pronto for posterity—this is what a handloom connoisseur’s collection is made of.
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