Know Your Saree: From Farmer To Weaver To Designer

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New Delhi (PTI):  In Ethicus, a fashion brand, the question of ‘who you are wearing’ is taken with all seriousness.
No, not the designer, but the weaver.
The weaver, who patiently wove every single thread to create the exquisite saree that the customer flaunts proudly.
The brand has a policy for a mandatory label with the weaver’s name and photo attached to every saree before it is put out for sale.
“Every saree has a story and we are letting the story out by telling the buyer about the weaver behind it,” Vijayalakshmi Nachiar, co-founder of Ethicus told PTI.
“The designer is only one link in the chain. The garment is produced by so many people — right from the farmer to the embroider. We cannot have names and photos of each of them, but we try cover most of them so that they get their due,” she added.
The tags also mention the time taken to produce the fabric and the importance of the material used.
A ‘farm to fashion’ initiative taken by Nachiar and her husband Mani Chinnaswamy, Ethicus claims to be an organic and sustainable fashion brand.
“Our collection is made out of ecological cotton grown in the farms of Karnataka, which is free from pesticides.”

The silk used by the brand is ‘Ahimsa Silk’, which is processed from cocoons without killing the pupae inside.
Also, following Gandhian principles, the cotton is spurn into yarn using charkhas, after which the weavers weave, Nachiar said.
For their latest collection ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’, Ethicus will host a two-day exhibition starting today, showcasing a fine range of hand-woven organic cotton saree assemblage at Agha Khan hall here.
Taking inspiration from the city of dreams, the collection has sarees dyed in the colour of the thousand pigeons that flock at the Gateway of India or the iconic kaali peeli (fiat taxi). Other sarees have designs in prints of the tallest skyscrapers.
However, Nachiar’s personal favourite is the one inspired by Bollywood posters, having shades of over 6,400 colours.
“Every year we work on different themes and come out with two different collections. As a student I have spent 5 years in Mumbai, so we thought we should do something keeping this city in mind which is inspirational to so many people for so many reasons,” said Nachiar, who has been invited to talk about her ‘farm to fashion’ story in the upcoming Lakme Fashion Week, 2017.

She said she knows that saree will always remain in demand because “professional working ladies” in India cannot do without it.

“Saree brings in respect and also helps build the serious image of Indian working women, which I believe is very important living in the man’s world,” she said.

Having said that, she admitted that a saree is not the best daily wear option for many, especially youngsters.
The exhibition, which also aims to sensitize people about the handloom industry, wants people to appreciate the work of weavers and subsequently, lend a hand for their upliftment.

Nachiar said it breaks her heart when even the well-to-do people shy away from paying the marked price of handloom sarees.
“Some people come to me and say ‘it is handloom why it is expensive’. Hand-made stuff is purely labour intensive. My weavers work for 8-12 hours a day. They need to have 2-3 cups of tea while working. Only the tea cost per saree is Rs 90.

“Knowing all this, how can one expect Rs 1000 to be the retail cost of a saree. What will the poor weaver and farmer get in that? How will they sustain their family?” she said.

The sarees displayed in the exhibition are priced between Rs 6,000 and Rs 40,000.

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