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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

[Tweet “Retail is important to sustain a skilled activity”]

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

 

18 Comment

  1. “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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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…

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