Weavers, weaving at break of day,
Why do you weave a garment so gay?
Blue as the wing of a halcyon wild,
We weave the robes of a new born child. Weavers, weaving at fall of night,
Why do you weave a garment so bright?
Like the plumes of a peacock, purple and green, We weave the marriage-veils of a queen.
Weavers, weaving solemn and still,
What do you weave in the moonlight chill?
White as a feather and white as a cloud, We weave a dead man’s funeral shroud.
Artisans of Fashion explores the rich textile heritage of Banaras, also known as Varanasi. Resting on the banks of the sacred Ganges River, Varanasi is regarded as a holy city by Hindus Buddhist and Jains alike. More than one million pilgrims visit the city every year, at least 3000 years old, Varanasi is also one of the world’s oldest living cities.
Varanasi has long attracted pilgrims, traders, conquerors and craftsmen and is famous for the meticulously handcrafted Banaras Sari - the ultimate sign of luxury.
The sari weaving tradition is almost 800 years old and this exact weaving technique is still carried out today having been handed down through the generations.
Over the past decade, the situation for weavers in Varanasi has declined. Cheap imports and industrialisation is now threatening the Varanasi weaver’s craft, driving the artisans to alternative employment and a life-sentence of extreme poverty.
Our journey begins in this timeless city, where we meet with weaver’s, master weavers and traders, an NGO working in partnership with a social enterprise and a contemporary textile designer working with the highly skilled artisan’s techniques to create stunning hand loomed textiles for the high end local and international luxury market.
We discover the complexities and challenges that arise through the integration of these ancient techniques within the constantly varying pulse of global fashion; and also the extraordinary possibilities of such a collaboration given an environment of cultural understanding and mutual respect. Access to market and production management systems are the two key areas of focus for Loom to Luxury, a social enterprise established to provide the village weavers with the opportunity to keep their craft alive and build sustainable businesses. Loom to Luxury in partnership with NGO Nest is providing suitable working environments along with the resources and facilities for new product development, training programs for the next generation of weavers and paid work opportunities for women. Already working closely with NY based fashion label Maiyet, this exciting initiative has a positive and viable future with significant mutual benefits.
Share on Facebook