Indian craft dying slowly, consumers wake up: Designer

New Delhi: Handloom revivalist and designer Madhu Jain has been trying to resuscitate fine craftsmanship for 25 years but feels Indian consumers need to wake up and think "swadeshi" and dump "videshi" to make the country`s textile traditions survive.

"I have always been associated with Indian art and crafts and I feel if we don`t give an opportunity to Indian craftsmen, then weaving and textile crafts will be lost forever. Ikat weavers have suddenly vanished by 60 percent. If designers do not provide them a good platform and good returns, it will die forever," Jain told reporters.

"Indian consumers need to change the thinking; they need to think `swadeshi` rather than `videshi`. When Kate Middleton got married, she chose British designer Sarah Burton for her wedding attire. So one has to make a conscious effort to promote people who belong to one`s own country," she added.

The Delhi-based designer has been closely working with Indian weavers for over two decades. Her intricate work on fabrics like gota handloom and Benarasi weaves has been much appreciated. She has also been effortlessly working on preserving India`s oldest crafts like chikankari, block printing, West Bengal`s folk art nakshi kantha and much more.

According to Jain, the greatest tragedy weavers face is being ignored not just by people but by designers as well.

"There is a popular saying in Hindi - `ghar ki murgi dal barabar`! It is a tragedy that traditional skills and exquisite, painstaking work do not receive their due in India," she said.

"Today nobody is interested in buying Indian art and crafts. There are just five percent designers in the country who know all about this rich craft and its history," she added.

Jain, who made her debut at the just concluded Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW) despite being a veteran in the field, feels this is the right platform to promote dying art forms, as the business-to-business event reaches out to a larger audience.

"I have been part of industry for 25 years and for me WIFW is a great platform for brand building as it eventually translates into revenue which is essential to help Indian weavers and textiles who are living a horrible life. Also I am doing fashion week because it is a platform which you can`t ignore any more," she said.

"I think fashion industry is a very powerful platform to convey the message across the masses that fashion is more than chic dressing; there has to be an essence to it. So while someone is promoting the craft, people will automatically notice it," she added.

Jain feels the need of the hour is to educate consumers about India`s rich craft and art.

"Today when you go abroad, you pay double or triple the price for handmade things, be it handmade boxes, bags, chocolate or shoes. So we have to create awareness that if you don`t support Indian art and crafts, then we are gone forever. We will lose this great tradition," she said.

"I am hopeful things will improve in coming days. Probably with our brand presence at the fashion week, I can expect some changes. Also, it can only be done through media focus and getting celebrities to endorse the produce," she said.


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