The just concluded Amazon India Fashion Week, held in Delhi, has put the spotlight on the iconic Chanderi craft, heralding a dawn for the legendary fabric.Scion of the Scindia royal family of Gwalior, Jyotiraditya Scindia, showcased the weave at the show in a regal style by walking on the ramp on its opening day on October 12, and lending his voice to a short documentary narrating the rich handloom and archaeological heritage of Chanderi, a tiny town in Madhya Pradesh, nestled among hills and lakes.Sixteen designers showed their versatile creations using the fabric as the muse, at Mr Scindia’s initiative, turning the traditional craft into high fashion, thus creating a buzz at the event.“The response to Chanderi fabric was terrific.
The event generated unusual interest in Chanderi among the audience,” Sunil Shety, president of Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) which co-hosted the show along with Amazon India, told this newspaper on phone on Saturday.“It is a culmination of my 13-year-long effort to accord Chanderi heritage its rightful place at the national level,” Mr Scindia, a Congress MP, told this newspaper expressing satisfaction over bringing Chanderi craft to national limelight.Mr Scindia said his romance with Chanderi began when he landed in the small town for the first time during an election campaign for Guna Lok Sabha constituency silicone rubber Manufacturers on a summer day in 2002. “It was love at first sight,” he said.The archaeological marvels — creations of erstwhile royal families of the region and Mogul rulers, all in a state of ruination then — and the local weavers who created magic with pieces of cotton and silk, had enthralled him.At the time, the weaver community who comprised nearly one-third of the 36,000-strong handloom town of Chanderi, was living in a miserable condition drawing meager wages and not able to find a market for their products.
With his initiative, a project sponsored by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) was launched in 2003-04 to revive Chanderi fabric by connecting the weavers to the market.Under the project, it was ensured that FabIndia procured Rs 1 crore worth Chanderi products every year for three years. Solar lanterns were given for free to the weavers. Digitization of around 20,000 Chanderi designs was done for their further up-gradation and diversification to cater to the taste of the young generation.Top fashion designers such as Rohit Bal, Rahul Mishra, Sanjya Garg, Preety Pandey and Chelna Desai have been roped in to diversify the craft to transform the traditional fabric into high fashion.In 2004, Chanderi sari was granted geographical indications (GI) tag to preserve its exclusivity. A GI is a standard used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. A handloom park — claimed to be Asia’s largest handloom facility — is coming up in Chanderi to not only boost the craft, but also promote the town as a tourist destination. The market volume Chanderi products has grown from Rs 15 crore per annum in 2003 to Rs 80 crore per year now, thanks to interventions by both government and individual promoters. “This is just the beginning. I will strive hard to ensure Chanderi the fabric and Chanderi the place finds her place among the world heritage sites,” Mr Scindia said.
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