Indian artisans have been creating intrinsic designs for global luxury fashion labels for ages. Garments designed by these karigars have adorned the looks of many international celebrations besides helping global brands make millions of dollars. Yet, their talent is rarely celebrated, says a Live Mint report.
Now is the time for global fashion brands to extend their support to Indian artisans. As India struggles with second COVID-19 wave, many of artisans have been rendered jobless, facing stark poverty. Only a few brands like Louis Vuitton have come forward to help these artisans. Others are apathetic to the sufferings of their suppliers, says Maximiliano Modesti, Founder & Managing Director, Les Atelier 2M and the Kalhath Institute. What make the garments produced by most of global brands special are their intrinsic designs. He believes, only Indian artisans have the ability to produce such designs in huge volumes at affordable costs.
Designer Peter Dundasis, who designed the jumpsuit for singer-songwriter H.E.R for the Oscar Awards last month, also vouches for the talent of Indian artisans. Last year, he collaborated with quaran-T, an initiative by Swedish brand incubator Bozzil and Mumbai embroidery house Saks India to celebrate their works.
Faulty perception, unstable demand
London-based designer Osman Yousefzada, opines, one reason Indian artisans do not get due credit is the perception by European luxury brands of their skills as just a craft and not design. Another reason is the use of Indian crafts according to brands’ whims and fancies, adds designer Rahul Mishra who has been struggling to complete his collection before Paris Haute Couture Week in July owing to migration of artisans to their hometowns during the lockdown.
Proponents of change
One of the few brands that have acknowledged their connection with Indian karigars is sportswear brand Lululemon. The brand recently donated $200,000 for the rehabilitation of artisans displaced by the pandemic. Embroidery houses like Saks India are also supporting these artisans. The export house did most of its product sampling in-house during lockdown to support craftsman, informs Sajjad Khan, Founder.
Responsibility to artisans
To change the current scheme of things, global brands need to recognize India’s role in their success, views Modesti. They cannot remain silent on their India connection, he adds.
Yousefzada agrees, brands are responsible for the well-being of their overseas craftsmen and workers. They cannot ignore their commitment towards Indian artisans. He advises luxury brands to acknowledge their works by adding the line on ‘Hand Embroidered in India,’ on their garments.