Hyderabad’s Chitrika is reimagining handlooms for the younger, with up to date jamdani, kuppadam and ballakammi

Chitrika is growing up to date designs utilizing kuppadam, jamdani and ballakammi strategies

Chitrika is growing up to date designs utilizing kuppadam, jamdani and ballakammi strategies

The Hyderabad workplace of Chitrika, an artisan producer firm that works with 300 handloom weaver households throughout Ponduru in Srikakulam district and Mandapeta in East Godavari districts, Andhra Pradesh, and Narayanpet district in Telangana, is adorned with racks stocking saris and materials. On just a few clothes stands are samples of Chitrika’s current experiments — clothes in up to date silhouettes focusing on youthful consumers.

Vijaya Switha Grandhi, who based Chitrika in 2005, says experimentation has been an ongoing course of, alongside conventional weaves. The design vocabulary advanced steadily: “We nudged weavers to develop at the least three new designs a yr and provided incentives. We don’t tamper with conventional strategies (jamdani, kuppadam and ballakammi) however search for new designs.

Design intervention

Chitrika courted on-line consumers throughout the pandemic by way of chitrika.in. The label rolled out its ready-to-wear assortment for its on-line shoppers after tasting success in exhibitions organized by the Crafts Council of Telangana, amongst others.

The assortment contains crop tops, high-low anti-fit tunics, straight match trousers, dhoti pants, flared pants, and extra: “There are takers for traditional kurtas, but we want to break the monotony of salwar-kurtas with newer cuts, ” provides Switha.

The weavers of Chitrika handlooms, Hyderabad

The weavers of Chitrika handlooms, Hyderabad | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The garment line is greater than merely stitching present handloom material in new silhouettes, however rethinking the design on the loom stage. If a trouser is to have a design panel working alongside its periphery, the sample emerges from the weave itself slightly than a patch stitched on the trouser material. Similarly, checkered patterns on the blouses are conceptualised on the weaving stage. The design intervention obtained a fillip when style graduates Mahima Khare and Amogha GS joined the label in 2020.

Origin story

Switha study the necessities of working with the agricultural sector throughout her Post Graduate Diploma in Risk Management course on the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), Gujarat: “We were taught to work with the rural community and help businesses grow. Thanks to my roots in Kanchipuram and interest in weaves and crafts, I decided to work in the handloom sector.”

The studying curve was fraught with highs and lows until 2011. It wasn’t straightforward to interrupt into the craft community the place established gamers, each government-aided items and personal operators, had already liaised with spinners and weavers. Chitrika started working with 10 weavers close to Ponduru in 2006 and scaled as much as 300 households because it expanded its footprint to East Godavari in 2013 and Narayanpet in 2017. “We also have a network of pre-loom workers; and dyeing is outsourced.”

Waves and strategies

Chitrika weavers specialise in jamdani, Srigadi checks, butas, kuppadam and ballakammi.

In Srikakulam, the ballakammi weaving is an additional weft approach used to create textured patterns, totally on the pallu.

The Srikakulam kuppadam is an interlocking approach used to create temple borders in contrasting colors. A loom is operated by two weavers.

The kuppadam of East Godavari is an interlocking approach used to create distinction borders, however not within the temple design. A loom could be operated by a single weaver.

The label employs pure dyes in pastel hues for khadi and azo free reactive and vat dyes for different cotton materials.

No-bleed colours

The label claims to supply zero-bleed handlooms. Switha attributes that to the standard of dyes in addition to the mechanised course of: “People think it is blasphemous to mechanise anything in handlooms. Certain repetitive and non-creative processes can be mechanised.” The ‘asu’ machine used for yarn winding by Pochampally weavers is an instance.

Elaborating on the bleed of dyes in handlooms, Switha says: “Dyeing is a labour-intensive process and there are chances that the overworked or insufficiently trained staff might wash a dyed fabric fewer number of times than required; hence the excess color bleeds.”

Looking again, she is glad that Chitrika has accomplished a cumulative enterprise of ₹18 crore since inception, and scraped by way of the pandemic. “We want to start a dyeing unit and that requires an investment of ₹3 crore; mobilizing funds remains a challenge.”

Chitrika sells on to clients and provides materials and completed merchandise to established handloom retail labels. Switha takes the discourse surrounding handloom revival with a pinch of salt: “There are fewer weavers today than a decade ago, while the demand has remained the same.”

The Chitrika team

The Chitrika staff | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Road forward

By 2030, the group hopes to allow an ecosystem that may profit 10,000 artisan households. Design experiments will proceed. Showing off a design panel the place the standard ballakammi has been tweaked to lead to new patterns, she explains how minimalistic designs on saris with out elaborate borders could make a super workwear.

For clothes, the staff can be gauging the autumn of the material and tensile power, aside from washing and shrinking experiments: “Our goal is to offer garments in three ranges — below ₹1000, ₹2000 and ₹3000.”

Chitrika can have its personal retailer on the Crafts Council of Telangana constructing CCT Spaces in Banjara Hills, later this yr.

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