While the focus of Indian designers has steadily been shifting towards indigenous textiles over the past few years, 2018 saw a real celebration of Indian weaves and fabrics. From young labels like Torani by Karan Torani who launched his label with a range of hand-printed chanderi just six months ago to Sanjay Garg, whose Heer campaign focused on Benarasi weaves—India’s textiles have come into their own this year.
For me, as a fashion observer, it was always the work of designers like Abraham & Thakore, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Anavila Mishra, and Palak Shah’s Ekaya that stood out. But this year, the story of Indian textiles has found new converts. For example, Pratima Pandey brought zari weaves into her collection as a focal point at her Spring 2019 show, and Payal Pratap revived Madras checks in sturdy cottons. Rahul Mishra, showing ready- to-wear in India after half a decade, too played with hand-woven stripes and checks. What makes this explosion of Indian textiles on the ramp so interesting is that it’s not restricted to a particular region or technique. From a major focus on Benaras, the attention has shifted to the more accessible (at least, price-wise) fabrics like chanderi, phulia, muslin, and hand-woven silks of all descriptions.
And all of this is happening at a time when more and more Indian designers are realising the importance of their own traditions, and what they have inherited from the culture they were born into. We’ve never been a country of great pattern-cutters, and our textiles have always been artisanal, and slow to weave and produce. That makes for a kind of luxury that’s not available anywhere else in the world.