As we step into the New Year, we cannot help reminisce the year (2017) that’s gone by. At Padma Paaduka, we’ve embraced hand woven fabrics every single day of the year, because we believe in it. Just like a drape is crafted, one thread at a time, we’ve added new stories of hand woven fabrics, one day at a time, every day of the past year.
And the most important part of our stories? You! Our customers, our supporters, our well-wishers, and our friends who partake in our philosophy. Here’s to wishing you all fabulous stories in the coming year. We wish you experiences filled with grace, elegance, happiness, joy, success, luck, and love. We hope 2018 will be the most special year for you all.
It is fitting that we bring in the New Year with you all, with a story. Here’s a story of something that has a special place in our collections and in our hearts – cotton.
Cotton – a versatile thread
Why cotton? As we end this fulfilling year, yearning to enter a new one, we thought long enough and decided to dedicate an article/story on cotton, a fabric that we are going to celebrate and uphold as we hop into the New Year. Perhaps the most wearable fabric in India, it merits attention for several reasons.
Padma Paaduka has been synonymous with a certain vocabulary – of treasured traditions, tactility of hand woven fabrics, rustic sophistication, and pure design. Crafted in cotton, linen, jute and bamboo fibers, Padma Paaduka sarees and accessories, tell many a stories - of timeless elegance, rustic influences and contemporary exuberance. We’re sharing some of our thoughts on why we embrace cotton in our collection of sarees.
A wonder fabric. Isn’t it a miracle that a soft and fluffy white ball grows and peeps out of a brown dried boll around seeds on the cotton plant? And truly magical is how this fluffy ball is spun and woven into a fiber – since ancient times and till date. The earliest information about cotton has been found from the Harappan civilizations, and in texts such as the Rigveda.
A fabric of history and politics in India. The story of cotton for India is an important one. The British desire for this mighty fabric when the East India Company began importing yarns from India, coincided with the invention of the cotton gin – a machine that separated the seeds from the fiber. The lack of production technology in India, meant the British imported cotton from India, which was spun into cloth and sold back to India. Soon followed Gandhi’s khadi revolution. Cotton is a simple fabric, replete with cultural and political history.
Cotton is an all-round fabric. Think neatly folded south cotton sarees with geometric patterns and zari borders; the play of lines of white cotton threads on the hireloom transforming into the Bengal cotton tant, or astonishing spreads of Bhagalpuri cottons, and rich kalamkari prints married to nine yards of this natural fabric.
Cotton holds a special place in the Indian history, culture and tradition. Different regions of the country create different cottons - patterns, colours, shades and textures.
Few fabrics have the easiness that cotton carries. That makes cotton a favorite among designers and fashion brands that are radically exploring the fabric, making it representative of the newer generations through adaptation. For example, cotton is the most preferred fabric for urban clothing such as shorts and tank tops, cigarette pants and palazzos. And alongside, there are the traditional (and also pretty urban, contemporary) garments that India wears in cotton: kurtas, churidaars, and the mighty saree.
Cotton lets you breathe. Cotton adapts to climate, style and purpose. From home décor to clothing, casual to formal, it has the ability to modify when used or worn differently. Light and airy when designed for Summer, and dense and comforting when crafted for nippy winters – cotton is a thread of transformation.
A congenial cloth. Think a flowly white angarkha, a vegetable dyed dupatta, or layers of a printed saree creating waves of patterns. Cotton has a naturally Earthy quality that takes the look in the way the fabric is perceived. Imagine a fitted cotton shirt over a stylized dhoti pant, and it will transform with remarkable ease. Imagine a block printed hand woven cotton saree over a natural dyed cotton blouse, and it’s achievable.
An intricate paradigm – of people and places.
But all these charming qualities of cotton are just one side of the story of this fabric. Every piece of cotton is the result of many a people, places, and industries - a fantastic amalgamation and coming together of energies. They are the reason we’re able to wear our cottons, in the way we do.
People – Cotton is a yarn that builds stories between farmers, spinners, weavers, dyers, printers, artisans, designers and many more. Different regions of India have various communities and families of cotton spinners and weavers, artisan communities that dye and print. Add to it the huge community of contemporary Indian fashion designers who are steering forward a movement of creating out of Indian cottons. And then there are those who understand the nature and beauty of cotton – the wearers.
Places – Cotton is the fabric of India. It demonstrates the synergy between handloom and artisan clusters, fashion designers and production centers. India boasts of the largest weaving capacity in the world, owing to its large skilled weavers community spread across the country in different regions – each specializing in a different method, a different weave, and a different technique.
An industry – The country is a booming textiles market with prominent textile parks and clusters. India’s contribution to textiles and particularly cotton in the world marks it as a major player in the global economy. Currently, India stands as the largest producer of cotton and jute. It supplies to domestic and international market needs. Whereas weavers are providing beautiful hand woven fabrics to designers, designers are providing them consistent employment owing to a booming Indian fashion industry.
But again, we’re in a space where a lot still needs to be done. A lot is still possible.
How many people do you come across who wear cotton every day?
The understanding of cotton is less widespread, especially among the young urban consumers. Fashion is exciting and powerful – it can be a force for huge positive change in the country.
The tide is turning.
We are at the turning point between a centuries-old cotton industry and a new wave of fashion design. Mindful consumption of the fabric has gained momentum over the last few years. The conscious Indian consumer is now choosing to wear handmade, hand woven, handloom, organic, natural dyes and indigenous cottons and khadis. There is a slow but progressive veering towards fashion in cotton. And a lot is still required to provide cotton an essential position in Indian wardrobes.
Today, cotton enjoys an eclectic position, however niche–it is worn by all people, diverse strata of society, it has found its way to the wardrobe of a niche community – the conscious consumer, as much as it is the everyday wear for women in villages in the country.
However, a large part of India, specially the younger generation is yet to appreciate this fabric. The reasons are many: the influx of synthetics from global brands, easy and inexpensive access to other fabrics, and a fast fashion sense of style. Whatever the reason, it is about time we educate ourselves about the richness of this fabric.
A cotton saree – a garment of individualism, power and style.
Let us be the initiative - wear more hand woven cottons. Let us pledge to educate the next generations and pass on this legacy. In India, it is a given that the mother’s sarees are as much her daughter’s. Daughters inherit the mother’s sarees. Let us pledge to wear more hand woven cotton sarees this year. Let us pledge to encourage the younger generation to wear more sarees this year.
The lack of identity of Indian fashion from a few decades back is fading away. The surge of interest in hand woven and in wearing sarees is compelling and making more fashion conscious consumers curious. Add to it the cultural and economic rush, it’s a promising new wave of revival.
Everyone seems to be asking a relevant question: why are we wearing what we are wearing? For us, each cotton saree is a reflection on the art, the people, and the place. It helps us discover new meanings, strengths and insights for the future.
The saree, its border, pallu, and the blouse – they all come together to silhouette the power and individuality of every woman.
Material exploration – Padma Paaduka and Banswari
Working at the intersection of hand woven fabric and design, Padma Paaduka, has, over the years, determinedly pursued ambitions to promote handloom sarees. This year, our co-brand, Banswari, will join us in our endeavor to encourage wearing hand woven sarees. Most known for the exquisite jewellery offered by the brand, you will now be able to buy cotton sarees from a Banswari curated selection. Expect hand woven cotton sarees in a mix of traditional and contemporary urban hues and styles. Those that you can wear from day to evening and workday to weekend. Layered and aesthetically driven, our cotton sarees are for the contemporary women – those who are fueled with passion, culture, and choose to be conscious consumers.
Padma Paaduka and now Banswari! We’re rooted in our love for hand woven and cottons. Are you with us? Take a quick peek through your wardrobe. We believe that there can always be more space for a cotton saree in your wardrobe. Simply, cotton sarees breath, and look amazing, to say the least. The most beautiful gift you can give to yourself and your loved ones.
If you enjoyed reading our story, if you empathize with our philosophy, and if you’d like to share your thoughts about cotton with us, do write to us. Wishing you all things nice in the New Year.
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