Realizing the Potential of indian handlooms

Over the years, handloom has moved from a freedom fighter’s identity fabric to a fashion garment. It has now found its place in Indian middle class society and gradually moved into corporate boardrooms. Modernity in fabric is essentially about functionality and tasteful restraint. Handloom has the potential for both.

‘I wear Handloom,’ the recent initiative of the Minister of Textiles, has been appreciated by not only the political leadership or the bureaucracy of the country, but also corporate India. The initiative emphasizes the focus of the Government and the growing recognition of the handloom sector, which, despite challenges, offers a diverse design base with adaptability for new designs, skilled labor, and traditional modes of production with low power, eco-friendly technology and processes, and informal modes of skill generation.

To address the challenges and discuss solutions, CII, in close partnership with the Office of the Development Commissioner – Handlooms, organized a Conference and Exhibition ‘Creating Handloom 2.0 – Realizing the potential of Indian Handloom Industry’ on 12 December in New Delhi, to mainstream the handloom industry.

The conference discussed three major intervention areas: branding, design, and the institutional framework required for promoting the handloom industry. Every weaver has his or her unique designs and craftsmanship which need to be protected and acknowledged. It is important to ensure a framework where Intellectual Protection Rights can be introduced and ensured for handloom weavers, said Ms Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Textiles, addressing a Special Session at the conference.

When the industry comes together with the weaver, an expeditious journey can take place, she said, citing the example of Biba, a domestic retail brand, which procured 2 lakh meters of handloom cloth in August and came up with two new collections in November. Already, 60 natural and chemical-free dyes have been registered under the ‘India handloom brand’ launched by the Prime Minister, she said.

Mr Alok Kumar, Development Commissioner – Handlooms, Ministry of Textiles, pointed out that with structured interventions in skills, technology, design and innovation, branding and marketing, the sector has the potential to scale up to a market size to about `4 lakh crores from the estimated size of `1 lakh crores at present in the next 6-7 years. This would further help in releasing 5-7 times higher wages to the artisans, he added. With proper branding and publicity, handloom exports can be scaled up at least 4 to 5 times in the next 5 years, he said.

Key Takeaways

• Handloom tourism can be an effective vehicle to promote the industry.

• Made-up is the next entity in the handloom sector, with immense potential.

• The current devolution of power with the 13th Finance Commission gives the States a greater role to play.

• Industry support is required to bring in market intelligence, and strengthen marketing linkages, with reduced intermediation.

• Getting a global footprint requires an app roach o f ‘co-c rea tion’ to contemporize, where the weaver and designer both come together to designer and innovate.

Source: CII Communique Jan 2017

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