Health & Lifestyle

Onam particular: Not just white and gold, the Kerala Kasavu in transition – Times of India


By now we’re all acquainted with the iconic white and gold saree of Kerala. Some name it the Kerala sari and even Onam sari – because it’s primarily worn on this competition – however more and more, the Kerala Kasavu is changing into simply recognisable past God’s Own Country. It’s an affidavit to the rising reputation of this iconic motif that makes use of off-white base with zari in varied varieties, thickness, and motifs. Rather a lot of it’s because of the expatriate Malayali neighborhood and the different credit score may very well be claimed by India’s first styled film ‘Aisha’ the place lead Sonam Kapoor and her gang of giggly ladies danced to a typical Punjabi track carrying the Kasavu. That was 11 years in the past. Is the Kerala Kasavu – iconic as it might be – must be reimagined to make it actually up to date?

Yes, say designers and entrepreneurs from Kerala who’re making an attempt to take the Kasavu past just a competition. Ramesh Menon of Save The Loom that works with weavers in Kerala and designers throughout India is a person on a mission to result in change. His concept is to retain the conventional varieties however make clothes that has a bigger attraction and market, apart from just the Malayalis in Kerala. He says, “Today, consumers want to buy something they can wear year round and not just splurge on ‘traditional wear’ limited to wearing only for festivals, temple visits or weddings. We want to move handloom to a luxury space beyond the festival and occasion season that increasingly is prone to disruptions.” To that finish, Save The Loom’s inhouse design lab has labored with artisans and companions throughout Kerala – Balarampuram, Chendamangala, Kuthampully and Palakkad . Their Olam assortment worn by actresses Parvathy Thiruvothu and Samyuktha Menon amongst others has turned out to be a path breaking train. “The singular idea is to bring in design elements that makes the textile far luxurious by multiple traditional processes – from pre-loom to post loom, and reduce the kasavu (zari) to minimum, yet prominent enough to give a signature,” he provides.

(Save The Loom Kasavu)


Small modifications, massive distinction

The standard market commercially pushed from Kuthumpally nonetheless goes with display screen-printed motifs and designs. And the classics are nonetheless consumed in its conventional varieties and simplicity. But there’s a new pattern rising, and organisations like Menon’s, designers like Bindu Nair of Ela and Sreejith Jeevan’s of Rouka are making the Kerala Kasavu extra versatile.

Nair, based mostly out of Palakkad in Kerala, works with solely primary Kerala Kasavu in silver and gold, and nonetheless roots for the classics. She presents variations in the plain Kasavu and but is nearly offered out for this Onam season. Nair has observed the heartening pattern that individuals – and not just Malayalis – at the moment are shopping for the Kerala Kasavu and the gross sales are going past Vishu (Malayali New Year) and Onam. She provides, “Now Kasavu sales are mostly year around which is great with many non-Mallus discovering the sari.”

Making the Kasavu non-seasonal has been one thing that Jeevan of Rouka has been focussing on since he launched the first sarees in 2019. This Onam, he says that it has develop into extra related since persons are shopping for extra consciously and on the lookout for merchandise which are extra wearable. Jeevan says, “Addition of colour has been a change we have seen and have made. While we love the traditional and promote it, we also feel it is important to make Kasavu more universal by adapting it to our present day lives. And more importantly to the lives of more people across the country than just Kerala. A slight tweak can make a huge perception change to the saree that is then more versatile and contemporary.”

Agrees Menon who can be working with designer Rahul Mishra. In his debut line at Lakme Fashion Week in 2006 and later in 2013, Mishra has labored with handlooms from Kerala. Menon says, “Today the market is far wider than just Malayalis. There are brands and designers outside Kerala bringing out collections that plays on the idea of off-white and zari. Some even dedicated their lines for Onam like Anavila Misra last year. The cotton woven in Kerala is in very fine count and has huge potential to command a global market,” he says.

FotoJet - 2021-08-20T233057.362

(Ela Silver Kasavu)


Legacy of Kasavu

Menon feels that the legacy of Kasavu or the type of textiles consumed in Kerala has far better relevance and significance apart from being half of the tradition. Agrees Nair who says {that a} handloom Kasavu is a dream to drape and though she counts on a regular basis separates as her energy she desires to work on a saree edit that updates the saree by collaborating with block print specialists outdoors of Kerala. Many manufacturers could also be taking out a cream and golden border sarees round Onam however they aren’t the authentic Kerala handloom cloth, says Nair. “For a lay consumer, it’s not an easy task to make our handloom vs power loom. There are very small differences that are evident only to an expert eye,” she cautions.

Interestingly, together with the saree, the Kerala mundu can also be one thing that’s being rethought by designers. Menon tells us that mundu gross sales are greater than every other handwoven textiles and is ‘bread and butter’ for many weavers throughout Kerala however as for design intervention, little or no or virtually nothing has been carried out thus far. Save the Loom launched (and continues to make) the vary of color mundu with out kasavu or the standard kara throughout the Kochi Muziris Biennale. “It’s still a long way to make it a daily wear or occupy evening wear space, as many consider that anything non offwhite goes into the ‘lungi’/ home wear space,” he says. Jeevan has discovered that the males are much more experimental and love to decorate up. “We launched our first mundu with embroidered birds back in 2020. It was quite popular last Onam. This year we brought out the Elephant mundu,” he says.

While reimagining the Kasavu is an fascinating thought, Nair says it’s not as simple. “There’s a push back from the weavers too but now few are opening to the possibility,” she says. But the demand for one thing completely different by the shoppers is altering the saree. Jeevan says, “Many traditionalists believe that we must not contemporarise it but I feel its important to have both worlds. It helps the weavers to have as many people wear their craft and for that design is essential.”

Menon says that in the age of social media now we have to try to make merchandise that not solely retains the identification of the area and craft but in addition work intrinsically to make the textile wealthy in its type. He provides, “We receive maximum response (67%) from the 18-34 age group. And another 21% in the age 35-44 group. This reflects the transition we managed to achieve in less than three years of focussed work.” The Kerala Kasavu would possibly just be coming of age.

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