National Handloom Day 2023: Let’s Embrace Conscious Choices…


Amidst the ever-changing landscape of the fashion industry, handloom has emerged as an enduring symbol of sustainability and cultural heritage. On August 7th, the nation commemorates National Handloom Day, a celebration of India’s rich handloom legacy and a poignant reminder of the historic call to promote indigenous products during the Swadeshi movement that began on this very date in 1905. Handloom’s resilience has withstood major revolutions, including the fast-fashion era, making it an epitome of mindful consumption and timeless craftsmanship.

India’s handloom heritage holds a treasured history of craftsmanship and cultural significance. For generations, skilled artisans have woven their hearts and souls into every thread, creating textiles that reflect the essence of our diverse culture and artistic expression. In the current era, conscious and slow fashion has emerged as the need of the hour. As ethical consumers increasingly recognise the impact of their choices on the environment and society, handloom products are experiencing a surge in popularity and recognition. Slow fashion, characterised by sustainability, craftsmanship, and mindful consumption, aligns perfectly with the principles of handloom products.

“As sustainability and conscious consumerism gain momentum, the handloom industry has emerged as the preferred choice of conscious individuals seeking ethically-produced, eco-friendly, and culturally-rich textiles. Handloom products inherently embody sustainability and eco-friendliness, being crafted from natural fibres with lower environmental impact and utilising a low-energy, low-water consumption process, making it a greener alternative to industrialised textile production. The appreciation for the uniqueness and craftsmanship of handloom textiles further drives the appeal of conscious consumers towards this timeless tradition,” says Sreya Samanta, Textile Designer and Founder & Creative Head, Label Sreya Samanta.

As we celebrate National Handloom Day, it’s a timely reminder to shift our focus towards conscious choices in the face of the prevailing fast fashion culture. Handlooms stand as a symbol of heritage, artistry, and sustainable fashion practices.

On the subject of embracing conscious choices, Debaroopa Bhattacharya, founder, Ummaira, a sustainable brand emphasises, “The handloom industry has witnessed a transformative shift towards becoming the preferred choice of conscious individuals seeking ethically-produced textiles. Despite facing financial challenges and low awareness of government initiatives, recent efforts have shown promising results. With approximately 67% of weavers earning less than ₹5,000 a month, the government has implemented schemes and facilities to support them, but awareness remains at a meagre 17%.”

“To address this, a network of handloom institutes has been proposed, providing individual identity to weavers and acting as a point of contact for government e-commerce platforms, enabling access to a wider market. These institutes also offer design and training support, fostering entrepreneurial spirit and creativity among weavers. By bridging the information gap, offering credit facilities, and strengthening the supply chain, the handloom industry is paving the way for sustainable and culturally significant textiles, resonating with conscious consumers’ values,” adds Bhattacharya.

Choosing handloom garments represents a deliberate step towards ethical fashion. Each handwoven creation tells a story, carrying with it the dedication of artisans and generations of skill refinement. “With key features like longevity, a unique hand-feel, and the use of natural fibres like cotton, wool, and silk, handloom products are not only beneficial for the skin but also have a sustainable impact on the environment and economy. Take, for instance, the handwoven Kala Cotton fabric, which gets softer and whiter with every wash, providing comfort and relief in varying weather conditions. The handloom industry’s commitment to sustainability not only contributes to a healthier environment but also plays a significant role in generating employment for rural India, making it a conscious choice for conscious consumers,” states Matrika Bhandari, co-founder, Inkriti.

Handlooms stand as a symbol of heritage, artistry, and sustainable fashion practices. In a world driven by quick turnovers and mass production, embracing handloom products signifies a commitment to preserving traditional craftsmanship, supporting local communities, and treading lightly on the environment.

Brands are redefining patrons’ relationship with clothing and making a positive impact on the world of fashion

Fabindia, a noted sustainable brand is honoured to be part of a legacy that dates back centuries. National Handloom Day holds immense significance for Fabindia as it aligns with our core values of promoting sustainable livelihoods and preserving India’s cultural heritage. Handed down from one generation to another, the indigenous weaves, designs, and colours, encapsulate the essence of true India, which is diverse and colourful.

Fabindia has always been committed towards the upliftment of countless artisan communities across India by collaborating with skilled weavers and craftsmen. Today, we have successfully connected over 55,000 rural craft-based producers to modern urban markets, establishing a foundation for skilled and sustainable rural employment while preserving India’s traditional handicrafts. From intricately woven sarees to stylish contemporary apparel, their handloom offerings cater to the modern tastes while remaining rooted in tradition. One such classic comes from our cluster in Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh, the artisans there weave traditional floral and peacock motifs and modern geometric designs on pure silk, Chanderi cotton and silk cotton to create beautiful saris for our customers.

Homegrown brands like Vilasa, feel through renewed demand for slow, genuine handcrafted products and the rise of small, homegrown labels promoting sustainability, handloom is experiencing a resurgence. Vilasa, a sustainable handloom brand, stands at the forefront of this movement, bridging the gap between remote weavers and middle-class buyers, offering affordable yet exquisite hand woven wonders like Jamdanis, Murshidabadi silks, and Chanderis. Breaking the notion of high prices for handmade goods, this industry is proving that slow fashion can be accessible without compromising its essence, paving the way for a brighter and more sustainable future for handloom.

In the realm of the handloom sector, a noticeable dearth of weavers currently practising their craft poses a significant challenge. Despite the efforts by the Department of Handlooms and Textiles to provide provisions and schemes to revive the sector, awareness about these opportunities remains limited among certain weavers. It is crucial for aspiring weavers to be well-informed about the available support and funding options to ensure the sustained growth of the handloom community. As we navigate the path towards revitalising the handloom sector, embracing conscious fashion becomes ever more essential. By actively supporting and promoting handloom products, consumers can contribute to the preservation of traditional craftsmanship, empower skilled artisans, and foster a sustainable future for the industry.

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