Saree weaving isn’t just a source of livelihood for weavers, it’s their passion — one that has been with them for centuries. To support this passion in the digital era that we’re living in, weavers in various parts of India, have joined hands with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) to get on the digital bandwagon to showcase their design and the artistry of their craft globally. Encouraging digital adoption in the handloom clusters of India, DEF collaborated with three designers last month to showcase a new range of exquisite handloom products under the brand name of DigiKargha at Lakme Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2018, for the second consecutive time, to promote the #ArtisansOfDigitalAge on the runway. Here, rather than celebrities walking the ramp, it were the weavers themselves who walked with the designers as showstoppers.
After its first exhibit at Lakme Fashion Week Spring/Summer earlier this year, DEF collaborated with three design labels who shared their concepts with the weavers who, in turn, translated them on to the warp and weft. Leveraging the digital bandwagon, designers from fashion labels Indigene, Naushad Ali and Three Clothing took workshops on trending colours, popular combinations and contemporary designs via Skype and Google Hangouts for the handloom weavers of Barpali and Nuatpatna in Odisha, Musiri in Tamil Nadu, and Saidanpur in Uttar Pradesh. These live digital workshops helped build the capacities of the weavers to produce high quality fabric yardage, which was then used by the design labels in their collection of contemporary wear.
DigiKargha used the platform of Lakme Fashion Week to showcase this digitally enabled collection, with weavers walking the ramp to showcase their art and craft, thus earning them the recognition they deserve rather than the anonymity they live in.
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