Declared by UNESCO as an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’, Jamdani fabric has always been the object of delicacy and subject of poetic muse for designers and patrons alike. Recently a few Bengal based designers have come up with the range of clothing made by up cycling weavers cast off.
Originated in Dhaka, the Jamdani commands a global patronage since thousands of years and it has adorned the statues of goddesses in ancient Greece, countless emperors from distant lands, and generations of local Mughal royalty, the advent of throw away fashion might have superimposed its admiration but repeated use of term revival by many fashion labels trivializes its perpetual grace.
In an attempt to make it a mainstream fabric, Kolkata-based designer Kavya Singh Kundu, who firstly get acquainted with the process through weavers in Phulia, West Bengal launched a range of saris, stoles and scarves made from upcycling the weavers’ cast-offs, she found creative ways to work around imperfections, mixing and matching bits to allow the motifs to stitch in.
Though it’s a highly labour intensve 16-step process, Jamadani has immense potential to bring about an artisanal diversity by utilising modern techniques. In order to make it more mainstream, designers have to link it to contemporary fashion.
According to her, the most popular part of her collection is the kaftan which is perfect for laid back style of working from home. Weavers have helped her to give jamdani a modern twist without taking away from the craft. Besides he new generation weavers are creating fresh, contemporary motifs, which are almost like abstract works of art that appeal to a younger demographic as well as to an international clientele. This will ensure that a legacy continues.
As it has its origin in Bangladesh, the Weavers across the border also have it tougher than their counterparts in West Bengal. India used to be their biggest source of income, but now it’s considered an import commodity for want of licenses and registration papers weavers do not have the right.
There is a need to incorporate it in the mainstream fashion through tunics, scarves, saris and dresses so the treasure, confined in the boundaries of high-end auction house such as Christie’s and Bonhams can see the admiration of large audience.