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Sustainable, Consciously-crafted and made with Love

Chanchal interview

   Sustainable, Consciously-crafted and made with Love

Bollywood actress Vidya Balan is seen sporting a classic black and golden Tussar Dupion Silk saree with a ghicha silk pallu created by Chanchal- Bringing Art to Life

‘Chanchal -Bringing Art to Life’ has a great collection that is truly rich with Indian culture, bringing out a heritage with beautiful patterns and motifs. “I’m passionate about Indian textiles, I’m passionate about Indian art and craft and that is what keeps me going. I talk to my weaving units and artisans everyday and those conversations are always inspiring. You learn about things that would otherwise escape you if you were living in the city. Multiple things like the cultural heritage of the work, and you also learn about the harsh realities of life that a person living in the city cannot imagine, says Chanchal. “The passion to create, comes from the need to create. We cannot let this cultural heritage and textiles die because no one is paying attention to it. The passion of knowing this heritage combined with the will to create and revive and make sure that the future generations have the fortune to see them the way we see them today, or even in a more evolved way. The idea is to constantly evolve, even if it’s just a percent better,” she says about being inspired to create magic through the brand.

Cotton Handloom Hubli Saree from North Karnataka, a weave which comes way back from the 12th century.

Bhagalpuri Tussar Silk is a heritage weave from Bihar. The beautiful texture and natural sheen, sets this textile apart from other silks.

Local artisans and craftsmen across India contribute to the frontiers of the environmental friendly label. “I don’t believe in the word ‘empowerment’. I feel that we work and collaborate, as a team. The artisans do what they know best, and I do what I know best and we come together to create something that we both love, which is what the artisans and I love to do. I don’t think I can use the word empowerment anywhere, because I don’t think I have done enough on my own. I hear this word empowerment way too often, and honestly it’s a process where each person contributes by doing what they do best. There’s a craft that they know, these artisans know how to weave and what to create. I see them as entrepreneurs or freelancers. I don’t know the craft, If you ask me to weave a Banarsi silk, I cannot. Ask me for design inspiration, and I can do that. I can tell you what color palette a city woman would prefer, or their choice of motifs or patterns and the type of occasion a city woman would choose a particular palette, but if I were to weave, I wouldn’t be able to contribute. I don’t see it as empowerment, I see it as a team’s collaborative hard work. That’s how it works at Chanchal where we co-create products.

Ikat Laptop Bag – The Ikat weave hails from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Chanchal revives this traditional weave in a contemporary style.

The label, which is five years old uses around ten different textile formats, mixing them up with contemporary styles. “A lot has changed since we started in 2015, when we were probably one of the first brands that looked at textile as not just clothing, but also as handbags and accessories. We started with our handbags, which gradually gained a lot of popularity. Our duffel bags and tote bags were received beautifully too. People were surprised to see traditional textiles culminating with contemporary styles. What’s been great about the last five years is that we have had competition in the market owing to the demand for such products and accessories. People have realised that there are different ways of looking at and perceiving textiles. In that sense, customer awareness has been great. Secondly, what’s changed is the rise in demand for sustainable fashion and the value that it holds. Sustainability means a lot to people today and I would say that there’s a role in this that brands like Chanchal play in this process. Everyone, including big brands, have played a role in making sustainable fashion a trend in the market, which is noticeable now.”

With a looming misconception that fashion newbies have about sustainable fashion is that anything made of natural fibre, cannot really be a fashion statement. Chanchal combats this stereotype by understanding the needs of the market. “It’s very important to make people realise that it is a myth that handlooms look boring, because there are so many types. It is important for us to show the various types of handlooms like a Bhagalpuri weave, Ikat weave or even North Eastern weaves, so that more people are aware of patterns other than the Khadi or cotton weaves. Modernizing textiles and garments, like a Khadi jumpsuit or a modern saree, gives a different shape and form which is more appealing to the audience. There is a lot of evolving technicality that goes into building and creating textiles. We need imagination, as designers, to not fall trap to the already existing designs in the market, but also come up with creative, contemporary ways to perceive textile, clothing and fashion accessories and produce them for the audience.”

Silk Duffle Bag – A beautiful Patola Ikat fused with Kantha stitches- two crafts coming together through this beautiful duffle bag.

“As someone who previously worked in a corporate background, I learnt the importance and power of networking that went into building the label. It was extremely important to focus on making it work, keeping in mind all the support that went into the brand. I always believed that if you work hard, people will discover you, but that’s not always true. Marketing and social media plays a huge role in the process of being discovered,” Chanchal summarizes the power of honest, transparent yet powerful communication as the unique selling point that the brand is rooted firmly in.

Written by Heidi Thomas

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