Handloom reboot through pop-up events in Hyderabad and Chennai

With Unlock 1.0 opening the doors of stores to shoppers, textile designer Gaurang Shah says it is the best time to resume business, adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.

From June 10 to 13, the Gaurang store in Hyderabad will host a pop-up of four menswear labels — Antar-Agni by Ujjawal Dubey, Anjul Bhandari, Mayyur R Girotra Couture and Project Bandi by Sakshi Mehra, targeting the wedding clientèle.

Weddings scheduled to take place from March to May were postponed, but Gaurang states that there have been several requests for wedding ensembles, from families that have planned to conduct small, private weddings beginning this month.

A model sports an ensemble by Project Bandi

A model sports an ensemble by Project Bandi  
| Photo Credit:
By arrangement

New norms

All through the four-day pop-up, he says there will be stringent safety measures at the store, beginning with a sanitiser stand at the entrance and temperature checks. “We will disinfect the counters and all contact areas three or four times a day. We will give masks to those who walk in without one. Since it’s a designer store, there will be fewer walk-ins than at retail stores. We have informed our regular clients to book an appointment to visit the store,” says Gaurang.

Trial of garments will not be permitted. A few samples can be tried on and Gaurang says these will be promptly disinfected. “A few pieces we have on display are samples and orders will be taken for new outfits. During lockdown, production has been affected,” he adds.

Gaurang Shah

This will be the first men’s collection showcase at the Gaurang store, as the designer felt he had to expand his clientèle, beyond his signature handwoven saris and garments. “Many young designers are working with handwoven fabrics, using handblock prints and coming up with smartly tailored outfits. This will be the first of our pop-ups that showcase emerging talent,” he says.

An Anjul Bhandari outfit

Beginning July, plans are on for fortnightly pop-ups at the Chennai Gaurang store as well. From July 7 to June 11, Antar-Agni, Integument and Kora among other labels will showcase functional women’s wear. There will be other pop-ups featuring apparel for men, children, and saris for women. “In the last two months, I have been coordinating with designers to organise these events that will also help weavers who depend on us for new orders,” says Gaurang.

Made by hand

The first event in Hyderabad will feature Spring-Summer 2020 and Fall-Winter 2020 collections in handwoven fabrics. Antar-Agni’s outfits in khadi employ natural dyes. Anjul Bhandari’s new line Laraib will feature kurtas, bundis and sherwanis in Lucknowi chikankari and mukaish in pastels.

Models flaunt apparels by Antar-Agni by Ujjawal Dubey

Models flaunt apparels by Antar-Agni by Ujjawal Dubey  
| Photo Credit:
By arrangement

Mayyur R Girotra will exhibit two lines — Rangrez that celebrates resham and mirror embroidery of Kutch, and Zar with zari, tilla and zardozi. On display will be sherwanis, bandhgalas, kurtas and shoes. Project Bandi will present a modern take on the Nehru jacket or classic bandi, using linen, cotton and silk.

Gaurang has also launched two e-commerce portals for his signature saris and ensembles (https://shop.gaurang.co), and handloom fabric (indianemporium.org). “I was against the idea of e-commerce for my kind of saris, since a customer needs to see it to understand the effort put in by weavers and craftspeople. However, we are adapting to the COVID-19 world. It’s not even been a week since we launched the portals and we have received new, young buyers,” says Gaurang, about the way forward for handloom.

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