The world renowned fashion designer from Ahmedabad, Asif Shaikh, is on a mission to revive and promote the fading heritage textile craft s. Textile heritage is part of culture and if lost, it will lose an important aspect of the culture. The textile crafts can only be kept alive if artisans get their due recognition for which Shaikh founded Crafts+Design+Society (CDS) recently registered as a company known as CDS Art Foundation.
CDS Art Foundation will facilitate collaboration between textile artisans and fashion designers. The artisans and designers will not only co-create and innovate but also create contemporary couture with traditional textile crafts such as ajrak, bandhani, pashmina, patola, batik, ikat and kalamkari, among several others.
Their aim is not just to empower artisans, but also to encourage the younger generation in artisan families to learn and continue evolving these heritage crafts. This can only be achieved when craftsmen not only get recognition, but also opportunities to create, innovate and sustain the art, said Asif.
CDS Art Foundation aims to educate textile craftsmen on aspects such as innovation and experimentation which they don't usually take up due to limited means. Instead of giving the artisans a livelihood, they aim to enable them to innovate and create a market for their craft. The goal is to make India's hand-crafted textiles as inspiring as any global brand. This will inspire the younger generation in artisan families to preserve their generations-old textile craftsmanship, said Gauri Wagenaar, committee member, CDS Arts Foundation and an art historian.
To give these artisans respect and recognition, CDS curated a fashion show, 'Walking Hand-in-Hand', which was held at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad last year. The collection shown, a line of garments, was co-created by artisans and designers in a particular craft, who also walked the ramp and explained their craft.
Part of the collection was also showcased at Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai last March. 'Walking Hand-in-Hand' will be held again this year as part of Archiprix 2017 at Cept University on February 9. The couture presented at the show will comprise textile crafts such as bani thani paintings from Rajasthan, bandhani and Bhujodi from Bhuj, ajrakh from Kutch, batik from Mundra, Kashmiri weaves and ikat from Telangana and Maheshwari from Madhya Pradesh, Banarasi weaves, among others.
Before each collection, the craft will be explained in brief with details of its origin, so people know what it is about. Fabrics are an integral part of architecture and therefore, Archiprix 2017 will be a good platform to showcase traditional Indian textile crafts before world renowned architects, said Asif.
After showcasing their craft at Walking Hand-in-Hand 2016, two artisans from Kutch got an opportunity to do so on a global platform. Abdul Jabbar Mohammad Khatri, a 9th generation artisan of Ajrak block printing art from Dhamadka in Anjar taluka of Kutch, conducted a workshop at Nottingham Trent University last year.
Many people approached him after the shows at NID and Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai. He was invited by Nottingham Trent University and British Academy to conduct a three-day workshop on Ajrak. They also organized an exhibition where his collection was showcased, said Jabbar who began learning the art from the age of eight.
Another textile craftsman, Abdul Jabbar Mohammad Khatri, specializing in bandhani - a tie-and-dye craft - showcased his collection at the Paris Fashion Week soon after doing so in the city.
Walking Hand-in-Hand was the first opportunity which gave credit to the artisans who have always been backstage.
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