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Down to earth with Banerjee

  • Published at 12:21 pm January 5th, 2016
Down to earth with Banerjee

The recent climate conference (COP21) has everybody talking about doing their part for the environment. Would you say khadi is fashion’s answer to reducing the carbon footprint?

Khadi as a fabric and as a fashion movement (if we could call it that), has always been an answer to all things ecological. It is the answer to the growing mechanised movement of all things machine-made. The foremost way of reducing carbon footprints is to be able to transition fabrics from machine-made to hand-made and make them more “human” oriented. Thankfully, since khadi is traditionally woven in handlooms by weavers, it definitely adds to reducing carbon, gas emission, etc, that would have been caused if machines were used.

Would you say that khadi is uniquely placed, culturally, ecologically and yes, fashionably?

Khadi has been one of the closest to natural/hand-made products since right from the yarn stage to the weaving stage, it’s processed manually and not by machines. At this present juncture, fashion as a whole is undergoing a revolution in terms of finding newer reaches and audience and most importantly, acceptability. Fashion as we normally know it is including such hand-made fibres and fabrics like khadi, hemp, linen, etc. And since right now we are talking about all things ecological, yes, Khadi is leading foremost in this.

We as a brand at PAROMITA BANERJEE, had started using khadi right from the start of the inception of our company in 2009. It was the most natural thing for us to do, as a handmade/eco-friendly and ethical brand.

India has done a lot to preserve and uphold the rich tradition of Khadi, an achievement that Bangladesh is aspiring towards. Any advice for our young designers?

To a young designer, I can only advise that fashion is a huge industry and a heavily revenue-generating one too. I would suggest, be in this industry only if you feel responsible for it and for the clothes you make. Fashion is as much about responsibly making clothes as much as it is about business and earning money. For example, if you work with handwoven fabric or use materials like khadi in your garment collection, it will automatically sustain thousands of weaver clusters for whom handloom weaving is the main source of income. Help sustain the century-old weaver skills that have been handed down from generations. The handloom industry is a very old one and as a new young generation of entrepreneurs, it becomes our duty to support this. Use fashion along with design to lead the way forward through the clothes you make, but use it responsibly.

How do you think today’s designers could embrace traditional fabrics/designs and stop them from going out of fashion?

By using more and more of it. As fashion designers we are said to be the trendsetters of fashion and design. So if we start by getting our inspiration from our rich textile archives and design vocabulary and make it adaptable to the contemporary times, then the present generation will embrace it whole-heartedly.

The main idea should be to package the older and richer traditions and make it contemporary and global so that the reach is more.

How do you think khadi could be more popularised?

By using khadi as a daily wear fabric as well. khadi as a fabric is most suited to our temperate climate where there is heat and humidity. Since it uses natural yarn, it breathes and is more suited to our climate.

What fascinates you most about Bangladeshi fashion?

Ever since I have been introduced to fashion and fabrics, I have always been fascinated by the Dhakai Jamdani textile which was originated in Bangladesh. It is a fascinating and painstaking weave done solely by hand and the effect is fine motifs on an almost transparent base.

In West Bengal, where I come from, there have been many weavers from Bangladesh who have migrated across the border and are now weaving the Dhakai Jamdani but I will always know that the origin was from Bangladesh.

What kind of modernisation does India have in their fashion industry that Bangladesh could adapt and benefit from?

In India, fashion has tried to adapt to the changing times and become more global. Since the average customer is well travelled and has been to many parts of the world, he or she wants fashion that moves with the times and wants silhouette and garment shapes that are more global and edgy.

What’s trending in Indian fashion this season?

There is a lot of handmade fabrics that is in the market now in India. There are huge talks of eco-fashion and organic clothing since everything around us is becoming more and more mechanised and modernised, people are wanting to wear natural fabrics like khadi, linen, tassar; namely man-made fabrics. This in turn is helping the handloom industry flourish and the weaver communities are being sustained through employment generation.

Could you describe your collection for the festival?

I am very excited to be a part of this Khadi Festival.

Khadi was one of the first fabrics we have started working with, when I started by company and my brand PAROMITA BANERJEE in 2009.

We have worked on a range for both men and women using khadi as the base material. The silhouettes and garment shapes are very global and at the same time very rooted and traditional. That sort of describes our brand too. We have a very local approach to global aesthetics rooted in the handloom sector of India, since our fabrics are all woven by various weaver clusters from all over India.

In this collection, expect to find silhouettes like the Bandgala kurta, Ghera angarakha, kurta, pajama, the dhoti and the sari all mixing together to form an amazing colour palette in indigo, black, white and splashes of red. A very traditional silhouette story in a contemporary setting.

We have also used the traditional Bengali “Laal-paar” red which is a very classic vermillion red, auspicious and used during the Durga Puja. This red/Laal-paar story continues throughout the collection. Lastly, we have also used a detail of up-cycled patchwork, where we have used left-over fabrics from past collections as details in the garments.

This is our first show in Bangladesh and we hope to come back sooner. 