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Indian fabrics an ancient history of quality and tradition

Updated on April 1, 2014

Once upon a time, Indian textile..

Textiles have a long and established history in the Indian region and it is known that in ancient times Indian fabrics were traded with China, Indonesia and the Roman world. In fact, we can say that until the 18th century, India was able to produce textiles whose quality and techniques were much more advanced compared to the fabrics produced in Europe.

Distinctive features of Indian fabrics are the vibrant colours and a consistent range of decorative motifs mainly representing natural and floral decorations. These are obtained using various dyeing techniques, such as, for example, the ancient technique of mordant dyeing, which has been used since the second millennium BC. The main feature of this technique is its intense colours that do not fade with time.

Varanasi - Banarsi Brocade
Varanasi - Banarsi Brocade

Silk weaving: the Banarsi Brocade

Brocade is a heavy, jacquard type of fabric decorated with patterns or floral designs in relief.

Traditionally the patterns were produced with gold or silver threads woven into the base fabric.

Banaras or, as many not Indian better known it, as Varanasi has been the centre of silk weaving in India since ancient times and it is still the main hub of production of Silk Brocade Sarees together with other garments which are produced by a large number of communities present in the region.

Indian Textile meets Fashion Today

Indian Textile Fashion workers
Indian Textile Fashion workers

Most movements in current Indian fashion have something to do with Indian textiles and famous and less famous Indian designers are more inclined to explore and adopt handloom textiles in their collection, combining them with both traditional and contemporary silhouettes.

The Indian government is very eager to support weavers in the production of textiles, and tries to provide yarn for the workers, which is not always easily available.

Indian textile protagonist of Lakme Fashion Week 2014

Dia MIrza for Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Dia MIrza for Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection

To understand the importance of traditional Indian fabrics in the fashion landscape we can look at Lakme Fashion Week, one of the biggest Indian fashion celebrations which has designated the Indian Textile Day. This is now becoming a regular ritual with shows, artistic presentations, debates and highly supported by the Indian Ministry of Textiles.

The "textile comeback" is especially evident in some of the most famous Indian designers. One of the most successful is Anita Dongre, whose latest collection celebrated the Varanasi Weaves, was showcased at Lakme Fashion Week 2014 - Summer Resort.

The famous designer has demonstrated her support and commitment towards promoting traditional Indian fabrics and crafts as she dedicated her entire collection to the craft, helped by the gorgeous presence of Dia Mirza, who opened her show.

Anita Dongre's Varanasi Weaves Collection at LFW 2014

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" CollectionAnita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" CollectionAnita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" CollectionAnita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" CollectionAnita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" CollectionAnita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" CollectionAnita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection
Anita Dongre's "Varanasi Weaves" Collection

The future..?

Indian traditional textiles and crafts are starting to be promoted outside of India and to the rest of the world thanks to the contemporary Indian Fashion designers who are starting to get known outside India. The future has never been so close and exciting!

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