Artisans are the ones who produce artisanal products, either completely by hand, tools or even mechanical means, these are mostly produced out of raw materials from sustainable resources. Artisanal creation is something to admire for because of their utility, art, and creativity.
As the man passed from the nomadic mode of collective life to the settled one, the emergence of village signified.
India is a land of diversity, villages, along with a treasure trove of arts and crafts. With each passing kilometre, you’ll find a variety of heritage it has gathered through centuries of existence.
The artisans and weavers from villages of the country have their own social lives and are the most hardworking, they are spread throughout the country. The rural segment accounts for 76.5% artisans.
More than 58% of the artisans earn their livelihood either fully or partially through textiles, including yarns of cotton, jute, wool, and Mesta. The females in almost every rural household create embroidery work by hand, but the commercial participation of the craft is limited, Artisans engaged in the manufacture of woollen and silk carpets by hand are 18.52%. The cane and bamboo artisans account for 12.49% of total handicraft artisans.
The artisans classified by social status are Scheduled castes(SC)23%, Scheduled tribes(ST) 11%, Other backward castes(OBC) 30%, and rest others 36%.
Their households mainly have male earning members, husbands and fathers are the only earning member in the artisan families. Income plays an important role in running the families, according to a speculated data 40% of artisan families have the income between INR 1,000-3,000 and INR 3,000-5,000 per month.
But as soon as they get skilled and learned, the income is improved and they start earning between INR 5,000-10,000. Unlike earlier, today the women from artisan families are coming forward and are engaging themselves in self-employment which is further improving their financial conditions.
7 million Indians are artisans and weavers, they still depend on Indigenous modes of production, traditional techniques and skills to make a living based on sustainability and handmade products. These artisans are the backbone of the Indian fashion industry and also of the non-farm rural economy.
There are several Indian fashion designer houses utilising hand made products and celebrated craft-based fashion business such as FabIndia and Anokhi.
With time and fashion world moving faster the artisans also decided to shift to urban centres in search of more money and respect.
The private sector has played a major role in uplifting artisans through market made by retail chains, appointing them in factories, working under high-end fashion designers and social businesses.
The heritage and craft of Indian artisans date back to 5000 years, from Punjab to Rajasthan every state has its own authenticity. The craft these artisans create takes months or years of painstaking efforts, they pass their skills from one generation to another. This passing of the craft is one of the key reasons that every region acquired its distinctive art forms.
Several Indian fashion designers are giving a new voice to their traditional art. Some of these are-
1. Samant Chauhan
Hailing from the state of Bihar, the fashion designer Samant Chauhan works with weavers of clusters spread across Bhagalpur in Bihar, he is a sustainable designer, who promotes and upgrades the weavers by making collections out of Bhagalpuri silk. Making this form of raw silk famous across the globe, the label SAMANT CHAUHAN is a renowned name in India, Middle East and Europe. To know more about him click here.
2. Rahul Mishra
"My factory works as a brain and other clusters of weavers and artisans are the hands and limbs of the label", RAHUL MISHRA the India - International designer houses artisans and weavers to create it's collections, "We started reverse migration, where slum dwellers were sent back to their villages and artisans and weavers were given work", the fashion designer truly reflects the Indian fashion sensibilities and craft through its garments.
3. Sulakshana Monga
The Indian fashion designer Sulakshana Monga is one of the veterans who has worked with weavers and artisans from almost all states of India, she has made collections inspired by cultures and art and crafts of Benaras and Rajasthan too. Her label Soltee by Sulakshana Monga is famous for its trousseau and bridal wear.
With increasing technology, traditional art is fading away. Indian artisans are now working for other designers. Many top designers are using the talent of these artisans for their brands. The artisans are the main heroes of the couture collection at mega fashion weeks and shows.
Several organizations and NGOs in India are helping the artisans to keep their art alive. The government too is promoting the dying art of the Indian artisans to keep their traditional craft on go. NGOs are taking several initiatives to help the artisans in selling their products across the country and are also providing them with a platform to showcase their talent in other countries too.
A platform named ‘Indian Artisans' offers a unique range of handcrafted creations that come straight from the artisans who have dedicated their lives for art. The mission of this platform is to showcase the creations of artisans who use the old traditional methods of hand-based processes in their art. It is interesting to see how different websites are showcasing traditional art from the remote corners of India trying to keep alive the dying art of the artisans of India. Some of these websites are-
This e-commerce website showcases the extraordinary work of Chanderi weavers from Madhya Pradesh. This platform is managed by Chanderi Weavers Resource Integration Information Resource Centre which consists of a group of artisans and self-help groups.
2. Dastkar Andhra
Dastkar Andhra works directly with the weavers of Andhra Pradesh and their cooperatives. This website aims to promote handloom weaving.
It is a platform through which artisans can directly connect to the global audience. Gaatha is a platform that connects the maker and the buyer.
4. The India Craft House
This platform showcases the products directly from artisans or the NGOs helping them. The portal has the products of different weavers from across the country.
5. Hands of India
Started by two sisters, it showcases the talent of artisans who do not know the actual worth of their traditional art.
Okhai's mission is to encourage the underprivileged women of society. It helps rural artisans to promote the traditional craft and earn their livelihood.
As more and more awareness is being made and spread about the indigenous fashion of India through the digital platforms and with fashion designers reaching out to global buyers, the artisans and weavers of India finally saw some support in keeping the dying art alive, but the recent pandemic has made the situation critical for them as the work and orders have been put on hold and the skilled population that lives on the earnings of everyday work are sitting at home, next to their tools without any order or work in hand.
India is facing the pandemic situation, the Indian Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi has locked down the country for 3 coming weeks. But with the widespread outbreak of Coronavirus in India, the Indian fashion industry has taken a step back. The renowned designers of Indian fashion industry even before the lockdown decided to close the production for some time looking at the severity of the crises. The spread of the virus has highly affected the Indian fashion industry, to know more in detail read on the blog by I Knock Fashion https://bit.ly/3dALYjg
Currently, there are 1,071 Coronavirus cases in India and 29 deaths, the government is taking proper precautions against the emergency and asking the people to stay safe and stay home.
As the pandemic spreads from Wuhan in China to the world, no one anticipated its enormous impacts on lives. The virus is declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, and in India, fashion shows have been postponed, including the Autumn Winter 2020 season of Lotus Makeup India Fashion Week.
Many other shows have also been cancelled and postponed including the ace fashion designer Shivan & Narresh’s 10th-anniversary celebrations; #ConsciousEffort 2020, events by Artisans Gallery in Mumbai, a sustainable fashion event organized by multi-designer store, the list is likely to get longer.
The real impact of the crisis is witnessed on the craft and handloom sector.
Self-employed weavers and artisans are dependent on seasonal retail sales and direct orders, they have received huge blows with the outbreak of the virus.
Weavers and artisans face a plethora of issues, from possible cancellations of orders to lack of awareness about the disease.
Ever since COVID-19 has hit the country many daily wage workers, artisans, weavers and people from other unorganized sector have lost their jobs. The Fashion Industry is no exception, as the small vendors, artisans and weavers associated with big Fashion Brands have been unemployed due to the lockdown in the country. But Indian Designers are not leaving their employees alone in this pandemic situation. Fashion houses of Anita Dongre, Sabyasachi Mukherjee and Torani have come forward to help their employees.
A few days back, Sabyasachi Mukherjee stated that he is not going to let his weavers feel lonely and helpless in this crisis. He announced that his business is going to pay his employees regardless of their ability to work from home. He said that he is going to pay his employees as long as he can.
Another big announcement during this time of crisis was made by the famous Indian fashion designer Anita Dongre. The House of Anita Dongre announced a medical fund of INR 1.5 crores to help out her small vendors, self-employed artisans, and partners who do not have any sort of medical insurance. The designer took this major step to make sure that she covers the medical insurance of her team in case medical emergencies arise from the widespread pandemic COVID-19.
The Indian fashion designer has already made sure that the company’s direct employees have medical insurance in place that covers them and their family members, in case any emergency occurs the company has decided to extend the medical insurance too.
The House of Anita Dongre has also been set up to assist employees and partners to answer any medical queries. To further read about her act of kindness click on the link below by I Knock Fashion- https://bit.ly/33S3uLp
The Indian fashion industry is proud of its rich tapestry of heritage crafts and highly skilled artisans and weavers. There are still thousands of weavers across the country who struggle to market their designs to the industry, but I Knock Fashion celebrates all the weavers and artisans of India. The world stands united against the outbreak of Coronavirus and hopes the Indian fashion industry further takes initiatives to help their daily workers and weavers in this crisis situation. Would you want to know more about the Indian artisans and weavers? Comment below.