Mira the Handloom Crusader #WATWB

With many women giving up the traditional sari for more contemporary attire,the ancient craft of handloom sari weaving is an endangered skill. But thanks to the passion of a handful of of people, like Mira,  the sari and its weavers are being given a new lease of life.  

The Handloom Crusader

Image for Mira Sagar the Handloom Crusader
Image source : Vaya Weaving Heritage

Mira Sagar is a Handloom Crusader who has embraced the sari in its original form. Her saris  come straight from a weaver’s handloom made with a skill that is passed on from generation to generation . Thanks to modern machines, this traditional industry which is labour intensive and time consuming was finding it hard to compete with its modern counterpart. Thus faced with a diminishing market , many weavers were ready to turn in their looms for more mundane but reliable sources of livelihood . They took to running kirana shops or paan  stalls!

Mira first met the weavers of Maheshwar during her stint with an NGO . She was amazed that this town once famous for its saris had just about 70-80 weavers  still practicing this craft. 

Something had to be done ! 

Breaking away from the traditional mould  of dark earthy colours like maroon and green that typified the fine gossamer-like fabric, Mira introduced a hitherto unheard of colour palette – pale, delicate pastels that complimented the fine fabric. Equally, they were hesitant to use unconventional yarns like tusser, jute and even linen. 

But as the brand began to be recognised and valued , other  weavers jumped on the band wagon . 

One step ahead

Mira had to be a step ahead of the imitators . She expanded her product range to include dupattas, stoles and yardage. She developed a special block printing technique that couldn’t be replicated . But above all, she worked towards creating an awareness and passion for this product among and a younger audience. Targeting women in their late 20’s to 40’s ensured that the industry would last for another generation. These  exquisitely woven fabrics strike a chord in fashionistas who are passionate about the sari and handloom fabrics.

Retail is essential for sustainability

However , mere innovation, design and quality control weren’t enough : retail  was equally important . Of what use is a product if there is no one to buy it ? And what was the point of merely reviving a skill ? It had to be a sustainable activity. Thus began Vaya Weaving Heritage a vibrant retail activity that Mira established with her business partner . Today the store has 7 outlets in the major Indian cities.  Remaining true to the Maheshwari handloom, Vaya  has expanded to stock  other handlooms. It now sources fabrics from weavers in Hyderabad , Kanjeevaram and Bengal too

Using better quality yarn, innovative techniques and and a design aesthetic that appealed to the young and trendy, Vaya has changed the image of a Khadi crusader to one of a sophisticated urban lady. 

Image for Khadi crusader
Source : from Vaya’s FB page

Today almost 500 workers are weaving for Vaya alone . With the revival of the handloom industry many more  weavers have gone back to the loom and are busy weaving dreams for the discerning fashionista. Many sleepy towns are now back on the fashion map with crusaders like Mira helping them along. 

 

Image for #WATW

I’m participating in We are the World Blogfest where bloggers share positive acts of humanity in life, in the news, or social media on the last FRIDAY of each month.

The co hosts this month are Belinda Witzenhausen, Simon Falk, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Mary J. Giese, Peter Nena

Do you have a positive story to share?

 

 

Image for BellyBytes

 

Proud Mumbai gal who always sees the humour in life. The mum who made banana fritters when all the other mums made cupcakes.

18 Comments

  1. Damyanti
    April 28, 2017

    What an amazing positive story of the revival of a dying art! Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
    1. Bellybytes
      April 28, 2017

      Glad you liked this!

      Reply
  2. Fabida Abdulla
    April 28, 2017

    Wow, never heard of Vaya before! Their designs are lovely – thanks for introducing them to us!
    Fabida Abdulla recently posted…W is for Wuthering HeightsMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Bellybytes
      April 28, 2017

      Happy to do so. Thanks for stopping by

      Reply
  3. Menaka Bharathi
    April 29, 2017

    Very inspiring indeed, not everyone would want to do something this noble. In fact these days it is really hard to find people with self imposed commitment and a heart to do something good for such dying art.
    Menaka Bharathi recently posted…10 Best Summer Fruits To Keep You Hydrated This SummerMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Bellybytes
      April 29, 2017

      You bet! Thanks for stopping by

      Reply
  4. LadyInRead
    April 29, 2017

    loved this story.. and the fabric is beautiful
    LadyInRead recently posted…Y is for yummyMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Bellybytes
      April 29, 2017

      So glad that you stopped by !

      Reply
  5. Simon Falk
    April 29, 2017

    “But above all, she worked towards creating an awareness and passion for this product among and a younger audience. ”
    Passing on precious aspects of culture is so significant. I’m hopeless with handicrafts but appreciate the value of the work of human hands. Thanks for sharing and joining us Simon’s Still Stanza #WATWB

    Reply
    1. Bellybytes
      April 29, 2017

      Really appreciate your kind words .

      Reply
  6. Mary J Giese
    April 29, 2017

    Wow, the saris in the photo are gorgeous! They remind me of a beautiful wedding dress. I’m glad to see that Mira revived the art of weaving saris and given hope to this craft. Thanks for sharing your story and joining in on #WATWB for April.

    Reply
    1. Bellybytes
      April 29, 2017

      Well I must say Mira has only revived ONE tradition of weaving . Saris are woven all over India ….

      Reply
  7. Dahlia
    April 30, 2017

    This is really great news. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Bellybytes
      April 30, 2017

      Glad you liked it

      Reply
  8. Deborah Weber
    May 4, 2017

    What a fabulous inspiring story. It’s so exciting to see what determination and vision can create, and it’s thrilling that time-honored traditions and arts can be rescued from the brink of extinction.

    Reply
    1. Bellybytes
      May 4, 2017

      Thanks we need people to save traditional skills from dying out

      Reply
  9. Michelle Wallace
    May 7, 2017

    The sari is so beautiful, and part of a long-standing tradition. It would be really sad if this vibrant attire became extinct.
    Thank goodness for Mira’s vision and commitment! She is doing a wonderful job. 🙂
    Thank you for sharing her story.

    Reply
    1. Bellybytes
      May 7, 2017

      The sari I’m sure won’t be extinct because it is the best suited garment to hide all our bulges…but indeed it is being worn less on an every day basis…

      Reply

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