Chennimalai popularly known as the 'Handloom Town' located in Erode district, Tamil Nadu though still recognized for its bedsheets and Jamakkalams, in the last five decades or so lost its distinct identity of handwoven textile heritage to powerloom. The number of handloom weavers in Chennimalai has shrunk from over a lakh in the 60s and 70s to less than 3,000 at present.
While nothing much seems to have been done to undo it for long, some attempt is now being made to revive, protect and preserve the heritage skills of the handloom weavers in that belt.
Devarajan Chinnuswamy, Managing Director, URC Construction (P) Ltd, who incidentally hails from a village near Chennimalai has avowed to restore the textile heritage of this small village.
Devarajan along with his friend Sampathe Kasirajan, an expert in value chain engineering and cluster development decided to transform the village and started an initiative Five P Venture India (P). The duo with a technical team for guidance is now trying to beat the odds to revive this community.
Five P's stand for â€œprotection (of the heritage), preservation (of tradition), promotion (of hard skills), which in turn will ensure prosperity and posterity of the community, said Chinnuswamy.
To ensure that the weavers do not struggle within the confines of their homes, as also understand the market requirements better, Chinnuswamy has set up a loom factory at a place called Myladi, about 3 km from Chennimalai.
The unit which has come up on a 15-acre plot is being developed in phased manner. They have earmarked 7-acres in the first phase of development and plan to install 27 looms in each of the two sheds with an investment to the tune of around Rs. 3.5 crore. They are trying to raise a like-sum to sustain it for the next 2-3 years.â€
Production has already commenced in one of the two sheds and Five P Venture has, according to its Chief Executive Bharathi Chinnuswamy started offering to the global market a variety of contemporary, handwoven and bespoke fabrics with jacquard designs using recycled, organic and natural dyed yarns.
The demand from overseas buyers is overwhelming. They are awed with their designs. They have in the first nine months of the current calendar year exported products worth Rs. 40 lakh. The demand is huge. Five P is therefore in the process of reaching out to many designers to use this loom facility. In June 2015, Five P launched an in-house brand â€œNool By Handâ€.
Nool strikes a fine balance with the designer entrepreneurs towards creating a range of apparel and home textiles. Their range includes natural linen, Indigo dyed fabric, organic cotton and cotton denim. Five P will enter every segment that has a niche to offer.
Nool has participated in 5 exhibitions since its launch. Their aim is to introduce the brand in at least 10 boutique stores (across the country) by June this year.
They also intent to make use the social medium that they have just begun as a tool to extensively promote their brand.
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