What happens when a fashion designer, working only with handloom, seeks to upgrade her skill set during the lockdown? She comes out with a unique collection that incorporates all that learning in indigenous craft and textile revival. Jaipur-based Aarushi Kilawat’s label, The Loom Art’s latest range, called Between the Lines and Lucid Dreams, is all about the Japanese textile dyeing technique of arashi shibori, embellished with kantha and sujini embroideries, which she imbibed from indigenous artists during the pandemic.
“The slowdown over the past few years gave me time to learn new techniques,” says Kilawat, adding, “I am deeply invested into reviving kantha and sujini, the ebbing crafts from West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The idea is to build upon these age-old techniques by adding new variations to keep them alive.” She goes on to explain that her brand reinvents the traditional weaves by merging fabrics, or marrying applique work with kantha, or even bringing in free-hand embroideries to make a completely unique garment. “The core values of kantha and sujini, however, stay the same,” she says.
The fashion scenario has undergone a radical shift with more people subscribing to a slow and sustainable lifestyle, says the designer. “As a fashion educator, this gives me the opportunity to bring something new to the table and narrate stories to people, who are now more aware towards the sensitivity of design, and favour sustainable fashion. For me, sustainability is a way to promote our handwoven textiles through a more transparent ecosystem,” she says.
Kilawat has been using the Japaneses resist-dye technique of arashi shibori since she debuted in Lakme Fashion Week’s GenNext show in 2020. The new collection too has plenty of that. “The outcome is uncertain in this technique, as no two outfits will get the same strokes. This, in my mind, is the hidden beauty of arashi shibori. Every garment is unique and becomes one of its kind. The challenge is to ensure that the gradation of the print remains the same in order to make it aesthetically pleasing,” she says
Shilpi Madan for The Sunday Standard