India has a myriad of fabrics and weaves to offer from every nook and corner of the land. There is a mention of the art of weaving in the Rig Veda. The oldest Indian fabric can be traced back to the Indus Valley civilization. History shows us that Indian cotton and silk fabrics have been sought after by foreign countries for centuries. And there is a wealth fabric for us to choose from.
To deal with the heat and humidity of Indian summers what better than the cottons and linens of our nation? My favourite summer picks are the Ikats and Madras checks and as for the fabrics, the Chanderis and linen.
The Ikat is primarily from Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. The Sambalpuris from Orissa, the Pochampally from Andhra and the Patolas of Gujarat are the most popular Ikat varieties. From the runways of Missoni to Anita Dongre, the Ikat has been widely used across the world. A few high street brands like JCrew and Aldo also have collections inspired by the Ikat weave. Jonathan Adler designer crockery and Steven Elmer wallpapers also proudly bear the Ikat design.
The Madras Checks is a lightweight cotton fabric that has a woven plaid pattern. It comes in a variety of bright colours and is another trend that has taken the world by storm. Every summer the runways go berserk with Madras Checks and its no different this time. Be seen in a bold Madras Check saree to stay fashionable during this season! Paul Smith and Gant, popular men’s clothing brands have also incorporated the Madras Checks in their summer collections. So now even the men have reason to stay trendy.
Chanderi is a village in Madhya Pradesh, well known for its lightweight cotton and silk fabrics. The Chanderi dates back to the Vedic period. It is born out of a special art of weaving with fine textured cotton and silk yarn and embellished with zari borders. It has always been patronised by royalty. The Chanderis hold a special place in my heart for their sheer texture. It is by far the most comfortable fabric to wear for our summer season. The luxury of the transparent Chanderi is like no other.
It has come a long way from its traditional floral and peacock motifs. The more modern versions feature tie and dye, geometrical patterns and moustache prints. My favourite Chanderis are from Vishal Kapur.
Linens are always associated with crisp shirts and leave you with a sense of austerity. Handwoven linen sarees are soft and feel wonderful to wear during summer.
Anavila makes the most luxurious linen sarees in a range colors. You’ll find pastels, all shades of beige, charcoal and black too. She has indeed given the otherwise plain linen saree a contemporary edge and made it fashionable to be seen in.
So promise yourself to experiment this summer and stay trendy with the traditional fabrics of India. Let us be proud Indians.
– Shrivyshnavi Annush for the Hindu Metroplus, 25th April, 2015