Handloom weaving is largely decentralized, and weaving families are mainly from the vulnerable and weaker sections of society, who weave for their household needs and also contribute to the production in the textile sector. These weaving families are keeping alive the legacy of traditional Indian craft of different regions. The level of artistry and intricacy achieved in handloom fabrics is unparalleled and certain weaves/designs are still beyond the scope of modern machines.
The handloom sector can meet every consumer need ranging from exquisite fabrics, which take months to weave, to popular items for daily use. As per the 3rd Handloom report carried out in 2009-10, more than 43 lakh people are engaged in weaving and allied activities. Remarkably around 77 percent of adult weavers are women and only 23 percent are men. Around 23.77 Lakhs looms of varied designs and construction are used by these weavers. A total of 7200 million sq.mtrs of handloom textiles were produced in India during 2014-15 and 2246 Crores of handlooms were exported.
In addition to being the 2nd largest employment provider in the unorganized sector (after agriculture), the Indian handloom industry is also unique as a sector which employs over 75% women. In today’s India when young people from rural/semi-rural areas are constantly tempted to desert their traditional vocations and migrate to urban areas for employment, the handloom sector provides these weavers/artisans, the opportunity to earn decent wages and at the same time preserve India’s beautiful weaving heritage.
Despite being such a large industry and more importantly where 75% of the artisans are women, this section has not received the recognition which they deserve. There are few E-Commerce platforms that are touching lives of more than 1000 weavers every month in a mission to democratize access to fine Indian handlooms sourced from a plethora of weaving clusters across the country.
Ethicus is one such company which is being widely appreciated for their contribution in this sector. It is an online platform which only deals in organic garments. Ethicus is a Farm to Fashion initiative of the husband and wife duo of Mani Chinnaswamy and Vijayalakshmi Nachiar. It also has the distinction of being India’s first Organic & Sustainable fashion brand. Established in 2009, it was launched with the aim to revive the rich local hand weaving traditions of the area through Product Development & Design Intervention.
Appachi Eco-Logic Cotton (P) Limited is the company behind the brand ‘Ethicus’ based in Pollachi Tamil Nadu, India. It was established in 1946. The company has pioneered India’s first Cotton Contract farming model and grows the finest Eco-logic Cotton in the Country. The best thing about this company is that along with its products it also promotes the artisan who has prepared the product. On every product, there is a label which mentions the name of the artisan along with the pic of the person and how much did it take to complete the product. Today, Ethicus weavers have gained a social status where they are no longer considered as paid labourers but ‘’ARTISANS”. All the products by this company are made from their own home grown cotton.
Now, Ethicus is coming to Delhi this week where they will be showcasing their beautiful products in an exhibition. They have named the exhibition as ‘Crossroad’. They have named it cross road because this season they took inspiration from the lines, angles & blocks of the iconic ‘Madras Checks’ & the colours of the ‘Birds of the Anamalais & Coimbatore’ to create a line of fresh colourful sarees with unique weaves and textures. The exhibition is taking place on 5th and 6th April at Indi College, Hauz Khas. It is a golden opportunity for Delhites to enjoy the top class products made from pure cotton and colours.
Digital platforms have the potential to innovate and scale up volumes of Indian handloom products, both in the domestic and international markets. This has huge potential for the Indian economy as it holds the key to providing large scale employment to over 4 million weavers spread all over the country in rural & semi-rural areas. There are few E-Commerce platforms that are touching lives of more than 1000 weavers every month in a mission to democratize access to fine Indian handlooms sourced from a plethora of weaving clusters across the country.
In the new Digital economy, top class digital platforms could be the ‘x-factor’ that will catalyze the widespread usage and growth of traditional handlooms. And thus help in weaving an alternate story for the Indian weaver.