HANDLOOM WEAVING - MEET THE ARTISAN
We first introduced handloom woven fabrications in our Resort 17/18 collection, weaving exclusive stripes in organic cottons. Since, we aim to incorporate fabrications woven by artisans on handlooms into every collection, predominately in stripes.

From our JET SET Collection we’ve developed a micro gingham check, The Finca. Crafted from a GOTS certified organic cotton, the design is wearable and subtle in a beautiful chocolate brown and white. We also have our Terrace story, an upholstery inspired stripe in coral and natural undid flax. These fabrications are woven on handlooms by artisanal weavers keeping the tradition alive while supporting the livelihoods of these craftspeople. 

We spoke to Anjani and Sanjana in India to shed some light on their traditional handloom weaving process and the environmental benefits of supporting this intricate craft.

Our supplier in India is a Sedex approved manufacturing partner, they support local charity partners to uplift their community from poverty. 

In an industry where everything can seem fast paced, can you tell us a bit about the process of handloom weaving? 

The process takes much longer compared to power looms, but handloom has its own richness. Power looms are completely automated and can process 100-1000 metres of yardage daily depending on the machine. However, handlooms are looms that are actually operated by a single person on their own. These days they attach a small motor to help ease the energy required for the repeated motion. The process involves spinning the cotton/silk fibre to yarn to the final fabric. This goes through many processes from preparing the warp and the filling yarn for weaving. Some basic steps involved are: 

Shedding: Raising and lowering of warp yarns (these run vertically through the length of the fabric known as the grain) by means of the harness to form shed, opening between warp yarn through which weft yarns (these run horizontally) are passed. 
Picking: Inserting of weft yarns by the shuttle through the thread. 
Beating Up: Packing the weft yarn into the cloth to make it compact.
Taking Up: Winding newly formed cloth onto the cloth beam.
Letting off: Releasing yarn from a warp beam. 

How long does it take to create a patterned fabric on the loom? 
Depending on different design graphs and complications it usually varies from 15-25 days for sampling fabric to be developed on handloom. 

We would love to know more about the history of handloom weaving in your area and how it has evolved over the years.

India is known to have a diverse culture of handloom weaving. The Indus Valley Civilisation was the birth place for handloom weaving in this country. It is also said in the Vedic Literature that the art of embroidery and dying during this time was considered a highly advanced occupation. With the settlement of Aryans, the craft was further honed and developed, with the introduction of new spinning, weaving and dying techniques.

By the 17th century 25% of the world’s textile was being produced in India, which turned upside down during the British rule and led to implementation of unfair trade practice. Weavers were forced into selling only to the British at a very low rate with hefty taxes imposed which led to the downfall of the industry and high poverty rates amongst the weavers. The Swadeshi Movement during the freedom struggle set course to revive the handloom sector. The spinning wheel or chakra became a symbol of self-reliance, determination,  and national pride. 

Later in the 20th century the government also set up the Office of Development Commissioner (Handlooms), in 1976 to ensure a scientific growth of the handloom industry. It is under this office that the government has been offering various welfare schemes for the benefit of the handloom weavers. In 1983, the National Handloom Development Corporation (NHDC) was set up to ensure a steady supply of raw materials such as yarn, dyes and chemicals to the State handloom organisations. With a view to recognising the importance of handloom and expressing solidarity with the welfare of handloom weavers, the government has decided to observe August 7 as ‘National Handloom Day’ every year. This day is linked with the launching of the Swadeshi movement in Kolkata in 1905. The handloom industry now provides livelihood to over 90 million people in the country. 


What benefits are gained from brands supporting the handloom industry in your region? Does it create positive social impacts? 
As the world moves towards the era of sustainable fashion and conscious choices, handloom takes more prominence than ever before with a very minimal carbon footprint owning to the factory ranging from eco-friendly infrastructure to low power consumption. The consistent efforts and initiatives by the textile ministry paired with new age designers and entrepreneurs endorsing our heritage crafts, is paving way for the handloom industry to flourish and thrive. 

It plays a major role in empowering women and disadvantaged segments of society. We make sure that every piece that we design comes with a story and pay homage to the women of past decades. Our aim to provide artisans with a consistent source of income and employment back to the villages of India.

 
As a company our motto is to eliminate waste and minimise the contribution to storage and landfills. We make a conscious effort to select suppliers/vendors working with us to be environmentally and ethically responsible, and use products with certification, focusing on minimum water and chemical use.   


Are there any positive environmental impacts from using traditional methods of textiles production?  
Yes, progressing with time the Indian government is also ensuring as years pass they keep improving, and re-strategising the approach to promote the handlooms. 
As a brand, we deliberately try to use hand-woven fabrics, from natural fibres and dyeing techniques. Zero waste design, is a concept commonly followed here, where we minimise the waste of fabric during production. This helps us in contributing to unnecessary cuts, carbon footprint, the use of machinery, water and electricity. The environmental impact is considered at every stage of designing and making process. Some of the sustainable choices used here are: Sunshine to replace bleach, lemon juice and sunshine to remove stubborn stains, eucalyptus oil to remove harder stains, and many more alternative combinations to reduce the impact on environment. The garments that are made following sustainable choices, have a longer shelf life leading to fewer clothes, less raw materials and energy use. Companies are also pushing themselves to use eco-friendly labels and trims to mark 100% environment friendly products. 

This craftsmanship is very inspiring and promising to a better future in balancing the environment. There are benefits at different life-cycle stages of the organic and eco-friendly fabrics trade, both for consumers and producers. However, in the larger scale, it is important to see that eco-friendly textiles and clothing may travel halfway around the world to reach the ethical customer. As the demand for eco friendly garments is increasing, there is a great scope for new entrepreneurs to enter into this field.
Shop the Finca and Terrace here.