By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, Dec 16 (IANS) The Indian design fraternity and consumers must realise the importance of being “swadeshi” — a concept in indigenousness promoted by Mahatma Gandhi — in their fashion statements, says veteran designer Madhu Jain, who is gearing to launch a new eco-friendly textile in 2017 to mark three decades of her label.
“I think swadeshi. My grandfather was a freedom fighter… My way of thinking is very different and I’m very nationalistic. I feel that we have to uphold the sanctity of our national costumes and save it from extinction,” Jain told IANS in an interview.
“What has happened to the sari should not happen to the salwar kameez. Young people have started wearing more of saris, but a lot more needs to be done. It just needs to be made attractive so that everyone wants a piece of it,” she added.
A textile conservationist and craft revivalist, Jain feels a dire need to restore the traditional crafts and weaving techniques that seem to be going out of the market.
“Fashion is a very powerful platform — make it, give it visibility, create a demand for the product and move on,” said the designer — distinct in the fashion circuit for her khadi chogas — whose collections with Kalamkari, Kantha and Ikat have been “successful experiments”.
“People work so hard in their countries to preserve their culture; I don’t know what is happening in India. Gandhi fought all along to preserve swadeshi, and today he would probably be turning in his grave thinking what’s happening,” she added.
Having showcased her creations across different countries during her career, Jain, who had even introduced bamboo fibre as a textile alternative, said Indian designers must “showcase the best of what our country has to offer”.
She feels that with Sunil Sethi at the helm of affairs at the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI) — India’s apex fashion body — the use of handloom in the fashion circuit is rampant like never before.
“After Mr. Sethi came into FDCI, things changed a lot. He has an old-world upbringing. He understands craft and so he gives it a platform. Like, look how fashionable Benarasi is today. And how fashionable Chanderi is going to become. I see a lot of positive influences coming in,” she said, and added how leaders of the nation, especially, can drive people’s fashion choices.
“Mrs Indira Gandhi was known for her sari collections, and till today she is remembered for the elegance with which she flaunted them,” Jain said and also mentioned veteran actress Rekha’s majestic Kanjeevarams.
The designer believes that the strength of Indian fashion lies in its textiles, and designers need to increasingly promote it. She is doing her bit by launching a new textile next year.
“I work very closely with the artisans and weavers; so I know which designers work with the weavers and which do not. About 90 per cent of the designers pick up ready materials, which is not the way it’s done. You have to develop your own textile.
“Next year, we will launch a very special eco-friendly textile,” she said of her plans of celebrating her 30 years in the industry.
Looking back at her journey, Jain said: “I am completely self-made. In our times, women never really worked. I am happy that I could do something out of my life. Who used to work in the 1970s? I have no regrets.”
(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )