Anavila has been utilizing the postal service to attach together with her weavers and craftspeople primarily based in rural pockets of West Bengal and Jharkhand for the final 9 years. “Private courier services don’t reach these villages. We used to send paper designs and small colour swatches to weavers, through post. Today the weavers are tech-savvy and designs can be sent through WhatsApp and we have an online database of colours. However, we continue to send raw material and receive the finished work through post,” says Anavila, in a telephonic dialog from Mumbai, including that she intends to provide extra masks to the Indian Postal Service.
Her workshops in Mumbai and Gurgaon, like different handloom and textile enterprises throughout the nation, halted all operations in mid-March, earlier than the nationwide lockdown was introduced. “This gave migrant workers enough time to take trains and get back home,” she provides.
Six embroiderers from her Gurgaon workshop who returned residence to Bihar, arrange a small unit and continued their work. “It didn’t make sense to ask them to travel back even after travel restrictions were eased, given the pandemic situation. Luckily, these embroiderers live in nearby areas and can coordinate and work,” says Anavila.
While weavers have historically been working from residence, Anavila says she is encouraging all her craftspeople to work from their properties. A number of of the workers from her Mumbai staff started making masks, with assist from two tailors. These material masks have an outer layer of linen and an interior layer of mulmul, and the elastic is roofed with a cotton layer.
Two masks are given complimentary for each Anavila buy made on-line and on the Mumbai retailer. But Anavila doesn’t intend to proceed promoting masks. “That’s not our primary focus [of revenue],” she says.
There is a gradual revival of curiosity amongst consumers, says Anavila. “We are in for a long haul and have to find ways of staying safe and adapting to the new normal. In the initial stages of the lockdown, priority was for essentials. Now people are placing orders for clothes.”
Songs of summer season
- Anavila’s spring-summer 2020 line of saris and clothes are accentuated with handwoven floral jamdani detailing, handblock prints for the blouses, and Khatwa embroidery with sequins.
She hopes that the teachings learnt through the lockdown will make extra folks choose for sustainable selections in meals, life-style and style: “I think there is an appreciation towards clothes that can transcend seasonal fashion trends, as opposed to fast fashion,” she says.
Does she foresee a surge in handloom patronage? “We cannot expect people to buy a sari or garment simply because it’s handloom. As designers, we have the responsibility of making stylish, quality handloom products that will make people want to own them. Mediocrity won’t work,” she says, signing off.