Four Kolkata brands share their handloom journey
Manas, Vara Calcutta, Aparajita Kolkata, and Jonakee by Sumona speaks to Indulge
Kolkata based handloom brands share their journey
Of late, Bengal has seen a growth in handloom like never before. The credit for this goes to both conscious buyers and knowledgeable home-grown brands that take up this heritage process and modify it to suit the needs of contemporary buyers. As we celebrate National Handloom Day on August 7, Indulge takes a look at four Kolkata-based brands that are making a name in this space.
Designer Manas Ghorai works with Bengal Khadi and other textiles bringing new designs quite often through his brand MANAS. Talking about working in this sector he mentions, “Handloom sector is a symbol of the country’s glorious cultural heritage and an important source of livelihood in the country. We began with a vision of supporting our heritage, cherishing modernity by encouraging its innovations through the revival of traditional methods to ensure the prosperity of the community. Our idea of sustainability lies in working with the community where the process not only satisfies the creative spirit of the master artisans but also puts food on the table.”
Manas’ latest collections include a combination of jamdani with Karnataka cotton, muslin, futki, and more. He mentions, “Futki is a unique yarn in Bengal. Dyed cotton silvers are inserted into the main yarn at the time of hand spinning. This warp and weft create a beautiful texture.” Apart from saris, MANAS also stocks up on dresses, blouses, fabrics, and jewellery .
A year-old Vara Calcutta designs contemporary outfits for the modern college–going or working women fusing traditional handloom processes and designs with the changing patterns of dressing today. Run by Ishita Das, their latest edit KAVERI-The Kalamkari Story is all about kalamkari designs on dresses. The young entrepreneur says on her journey, “Handloom is unparalleled in its flexibility and versatility, permitting experimentation and encouraging innovations. The strength of handloom lies in introducing innovative designs, which cannot be replicated by the power loom sector. Most handloom fabrics are made using natural fibres which feel significantly better against one's skin.”
The latest edit plays with Kalamkari designs in various soothing colours including red, yellow, and white. When asked about incorporating Kalamkari she mentions, “Kalamkari has an antique style created using vegetable dyes on cotton fabric. The ready-to-wear dresses encourage everyone to feel beautiful in their sizes.” VARA plays on patterns and cuts in the collection which enables them to be styled in multiple ways.
The newest launch from the brand is a collection of any-time wear co-ord sets that stems from the growing interest in the apparel. Aparajita Banerjee talks more about working with handlooms for her brand, “Handloom weaves have always been very close to my heart. It's the feel, soft texture, and tiny follies at some places of the weaves that make handloom fabrics so special. Indian handloom artisans are globally known for their skilled hand spinning, weaving, dying, and printing styles. ” She also mentions how the sector is eco-friendly. “It is less capital intensive, eco-friendly, sustainable, and requires less power consumption, reducing the carbon footprint.”
Her co-ord sets have fused various Western styles and cuts and created a modern look with traditional settings. She says, “We have a soft hand-woven cotton dhoti pattern co-ord set with colour block shades of red and black paired with a yoke and kimono sleeves top. Another set is all about a soft grey and beige plunge neck peplum top with small traditional jamdani motif block prints and kantha stitch paired with tulip pattern straight pants.”
Jonakee by Sumona
Sumona Halder who runs Jonakee by Sumona works with beautiful bright handloom patterns and colours. The brand is one of the few in the city that exclusively makes couple sets experimenting with various handloom fabrics and designs.
She gives a glimpse of Sananda, one of their pujo collection launches in yellow and black colours. Sumona says, “Inspired by Bengal’s begumpuri sari we improvised the embroidery on hand-woven tussar by cotton, keeping the basic characteristics intact. For the blouse, we tried to give a touch of sabekiana (traditional) where the small net frills remind us of maa er biyebarir (mother’s wedding wear) style. For the dhuti we choose black hand-woven phulia cotton with a handloom jacquard border.” Another collection, Nishipoddo is for those who define fashion and beauty through the timeless grace of black and white.
Orders for all brands are taken through their websites and/or social media pagesIndulgeMANASVARA CALCUTTAAparajita KolkataJonakee by Sumona