The handloom sector in India is facing serious challenges from the power loom sector says designer Gautam Gupta, who is known for his extensive and fine handloom weaved Indian attires such as sarees and lehengas that he proudly hosts under his label AshaGautam. The designer recently hosted a festival of handloom-based sarees, ‘Kargha’ and all one could see were some of the rarest designs of handloom weaves.
On the occasion of 2nd National Handloom Day, the designer in an exclusive chat with Deepannita Chakraborty, shares his views on the Indian Hand loom sector, and its problems, solutions ahead and many more.
You have always associated yourself with handloom. What do you think is one of the biggest problems plaguing the handicraft sector today?
The biggest problem handloom is facing is the replicas made by handlooms. These replicas are of synthetic yarns and cheap to buy so that an unaware consumer falls in the trap. Designing handloom is a time consuming process especially if it’s a jacquard design as a lot of effort goes in pre weaving setup whereas power loom normally produces very fast.
Another issue is that lot of people don’t understand the difference which makes the market limited.
What is the solution for this problem?
360 degrees of efforts are required to solve this problem. From the root level, lot of designing, innovation and experimentation is required. From marketing side, we need more “only handloom based products” website so to ensure authentication. From a promotional aspect, we need more popular faces or social influencer’s, both, digitally and non-digitally to popularize handloom and make it a style statement. The government must also have more tax rebates on stitched garments, so that it cost cheaper to end consumers. Lastly, the basic infrastructure like 24 hours power and water supply is mandatory along with provision of communication facilities to remote villages so that the creative brains can go and stay there longer.
Why is the handloom sector in India experiencing a negative growth?
I’ts on revamp stage and soon you will see the growth in it. As mentioned earlier, it is facing rapid competition from power looms and mill made fabrics. Over the period of time, the gap has widen.
Apart from the popular Banarasi and Kanchipuram, which are the other textiles that need maximum attention?
There are so many from Tripura, Assam, Manipur and Tamil Naidu
Which one do you like better: Handloom or Power loom?
What is your success mantra for the budding designers who want to promote handloom?
First they must study what they wish to specialize in. Be clear and focused. Working on handloom is a very time consuming process so one needs to be patient with the weavers. Also need to supervise it at every level for the desired result. Be a good paymaster as poor weavers cant work without financial support.