Traditional twist

Anjali Jhangiani
Friday, 12 May 2017

In an attempt to reintroduce youngsters to traditional Indian textiles, designer Rinku Sobti uses Pochampally fabric to make Westernwear

Did you know that Aishwariya Rai wore a Pochampally saree for her wedding or that all the hostesses of the government-owned airlines, Air India, wear specially-designed Pochampally sarees as their uniform? Working on this fabric, which is so integral to India, and giving it a whole new look, Rinku Sobti has launched a new collection. 

“Pochampally fabric is handwoven and a lot of time is devoted in its making. The result which comes out is what appeals to me,” says Sobti, who worked with the weavers at Pochampally Park to learn the process of making the fabric. The fabric was born out of Telangana, and spread to other parts of India like Gujarat and Odisha. Villages like Pochampally, Koyalgudam, Chowtuppala and more, in Telangana, still have over 5,000 looms dedicated to producing Pochampally fabric. It is known as double ikat because intricate designs are transfered to the yarn before they are weaved together. It received Intellectual Property Rights Protection or Geographical Indication (GI) status in 2005, and ever since, Pochampally Ikat has been the registered property of Pochampally Handloom Weavers Cooperative Society Ltd and the Pochampally Handloom Tie and Dye Silk Sarees Manufacturers Association. 

Sobti claims that the fabric is the best thing one can wear to beat the merciless heat of the Indian summers. It is comfortable and looks quite dressy. “The fabric is natural and breathable. There is no synthetic factor in it which would make you feel hot during  summer. It is very light and cool and sits perfectly on your skin,” she says. 

Sobti’s ulterior motive to explore this fabric in her latest collection was to find a way to make the youth connect with it. Since Pochampally is usually used to make sarees, she took up the challenge to use it to design Western outfits. “The main idea behind this was to get the young generation familiar with our Indian crafts. When the whole generation was running behind international brands and promoting their fashion, we decided, why not have it the other way round? This collection is economical and doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket. Since India has a wealth of weavers and I belong to an industry where you can promote them and their hard work, then I feel I should collaborate with them and promote our Indian crafts as much as I can,” says Sobti. 

Her collection includes skirts, jackets both high and low, jumpsuits and Western dresses. All of the designs featured have clean cuts and strong lines. “The collection is a complete Western wear. The jumpsuits, dresses, tops, skirts and shorts are chic and comfortable. The cuts and silhouettes, mostly in the collection, are straight keeping in mind the comfort factor and the skirts are flared which speaks to the young generation,” says Sobti. 

Since the fabric itself has beautiful designs, there was hardly any requirement for add-on detailing. “The fabric in itself had tie and dye so we kept the detailing to a minimal. Macrame, the art of knotting threads together to make patterns, is my speciality. So I have used fringes wherever I found it could fit, and I have also used mirror embroidery for a summery touch,” describes Sobti. 

Accessorisation must be kept to a minimum if you want your Pochampally outfit to stand out. “The Pochampally fabric already has too much going on its fabric, so my advice would be to keep your accessories light. Don’t overdo  so that you aren’t clamped in the whole look,” says Sobti. 

You can contact the author on Twitter @purplesaga

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