Express News Service

KOCHI: 2018 was a momentous year for Malayalees. The year was a lesson about perseverance, revival and rebuilding. For fashion as well. It pointed out to people the fashion industry is no longer an abrasive, competitive industry but a helping hand when in time of need. An instance of this is the ongoing effort to revive the handloom weavers of Chendamangalam. This has given the New Year glimpses of optimism and hope.

Taking lessons from the revival of the small weaver town in the state, designers have realised that responsible fashion is in trend this year.Kerala-based designers such as Sreejith Jeevan of Rouka have been in the forefront of pioneering  responsible fashion. “We have reached a point of realisation that if villages don’t support fashion, the industry won’t survive,” says Sreejith.

“We have been fed with the wrong notion that fashion originates from cities. Post floods, any skill associated with craft and clothing has experienced a sort of revival,” he continues. “In Chendamangalam, we have realised when you make one piece of textile, six to eight people are involved in the process. When you revive weavers, it’s not just helping them but their families as well. We have been associating with the weavers of Chendamangalam even before the floods. Since Chendamangalam got a lot of attention post floods, it is a good time to bring Chendamangalam on the fashion map which will consequently be a model for any skill cluster in the country,” he says.

As responsible fashion is gaining traction, the questions have changed to what narratives each piece of clothing represent and what processes go behind the making of it. “Rouka is focusing more on sustainable processes and how a product will be much richer because of the way it is made. The narrative we wanted to focus this year was the idea of creating fashion that is rooted in a place,” says Sreejith.

Post floods, Malayali’s attitude towards fashion and style has changed rationally. “Rather than thinking of what is in trend, people are questioning whether a piece of clothing fits their lifestyle and what kind of impact it has on your lifestyle. It is more like embracing who you are and still be fashionable. On one side, the industry is loosening its reins, but on the other side, it is becoming more responsible,” says Sreejith.

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