Dire straits of couture-level artisans

As India grapples with a deadly wave of pandemic, the fortune of highly skilled artisans who excel in handicrafts like embroidery, beading and appliqué work to enhance the vanity of top fashion brands remains in shambles.

Indian garment supply chain is in the throes of a second wave of covid owing to further lockdowns and migrations of labourers. The atelier and export houses are confronted with a grave uncertainty as their high-end clients whose couture grace the red carpets, runway shows in Milan and Paris after finding themselves in deep waters are forced to revive their whole product line.

Mumbai, being a centre of cheap labour and the high quality intricate handiwork has long been a focus point of the global luxury supply chain. But pandemic has severely impacted the orders though some of Mumbai’s workshops have reopened, the volume of requests from high-end fashion brands is far from what it was hence the prospects for many karigars continue to be in the mist of tormenting times.

As most of the factories and ateliers remain shut, the artisans are either forced to pick odd jobs nearby their villages or pleading for loans.

According to Sunil Sethi, chair of the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI), “For months, all production and commerce flat-lined across the spectrum of the Indian fashion sector, including at couture-level ateliers. The fortunes of manufacturers and exporters took a massive nosedive. Many were forced to shut down or slash their workforces. At the bottom of all that are laborers like the karigars.”

Rapid vaccination across the world can only provide the much needed deliverance from the present gloom that industry is faced with as many Western markets are still in lockdown, events such as big weddings, black-tie parties and fashion shows have already  rescheduled their programme calendars for later dates.

Cover image by Gulfnews

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