Asha Gautam was born with a design philosophy inspired from rich Indian craftsmanship. The designer duo strives to keep alive the charm of the traditional weave. It is after all in the deepest alcoves of the country you find some of the most sophisticated weaving techniques. It took them time to find those artisans who could craft their creations especially because commutation to these areas was not easy, there was no support of technology, handloom being an unorganized industry then there was no prior information so one had to do reiki for days to find quality weavers. Twenty years ago it wasn’t easy to identify such artisans, get them to partner with you on your creations as well as earn their trust.
With perseverance, assurances and conviction a partnership to create new design story was created. During those days’ weavers used to prefer working with wholesalers as they needed minimum quantity orders plus the fact it was far easier for them to trust local businessmen vis a vis outsider. Once they were convinced the next challenge was of weaving on unconventional designs. Recalls Asha, “Most of the weavers in Banaras were working on floral and mughal patterns so whenever motifs were inspired from jewelry, folk art, figures and other art work, they got uncomfortable but with frequent visits and sometimes involving middlemen it worked out. Though costing was high but then exclusivity is always expensive.”
After successful collaboration in Banaras, the duo travelled to other specialized clusters like Uppada, Kutch, Patan, Paithani , Kaithoon, Limbdi, Pochampally and others to work with the weavers at the grassroots level. The brand actively supports and promotes the revival of indigenous craftsmanship from across India. They made sure that the essence of the weave is not lost in the name of creativity. Gautam says “Bandhani, Paithani, Patolas, Kotadori and many other weaves have a look which we never wanted to change so we work on slight modifications, which brings freshness to the weave and yet makes it look authentic.”
Apart from experimenting on handloom they are constantly researching textures which include detailed embroideries such as Petit Point, Convent, Cross stitch, Gara Parsi, Gota, Mukesh and Zardosi. Again like weaving, these embroideries are rare and specialized and there are very few craftsmen today who continue to work on them. So they ensure preservation and continuity by making them appealing to the younger generation as well. Lastly with rich embroideries they also work on new materials to give an evolved look to the brand. “Stagnancy is something in which neither can I breathe nor my brand, so we try to do some variations here and there,” adds Gautam.
Today the label’s symbiotic relationship with more than 100 weavers across India and 150 crafts people working in ten states, is bringing value to the local communities as well as the design house. “We want each design to look like an Indian Couture statement and this motivates us to keep on working on those crafts which are timeless classics. It’s our endeavor to keep reviving those arts and crafts which need more support. He believes that with smart modifications we can use handloom not only in Indian bridal but fusion and couture as well.” says Gautam.