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Beyond the red carpet: The tragedy of Indian weavers

By Anita Aikara
February 02, 2018 07:43 IST
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"There are weavers in the interiors of India who spin cotton with their hands and earn a mere ₹10 on a daily basis.
"While there are industries creating one lakh units a day. That is not justified.
"At least 180 grams of cotton is needed to create a shirt and these poor weavers spin just 10 gm of cotton on a daily basis. Which means they need to work for 18 days to get enough cotton for a shirt."

GenNext designer Padma Raj Keshri, 26, from Ara, Bihar has been a fan of the actor since the time he watched Om Shanti Om.

Reportage: Anita Aikara/Rediff.com; Photographs: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.comVideo by Afsar Dayatar/Rediff.com

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Padma Raj Keshri

Summer/Resort will take you back to the basics. 

"Less is more," says the aspiring designer, who was handpicked among the five new designers to showcase their collections at the fashion week. 

He talks to Anita Aikara/Rediff.com about what inspires him, the time he first started questioning fabrics and the GenNext collection. 

The GenNext collection

Padma Raj Keshri

Keshri used yak wool and pashmina in this collection.

Padma's collection was all about India -- the looks maybe modern however, the fabrics he played around with were organic.

Comprising linen, the collection was meant for people who would choose comfort over style.   

"You can wear something flashy on one day. But will you be able to wear it everyday?" he questions. "That's why I chose to go back to the basics."

Padma, who studied at the NIFT Bangalore, completed his masters in textile designing from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. 

"Ahmedabad has become a UNESCO heritage city," says the aspiring designer talking of his summer resort collection with basic silhouettes using techniques of tucks and pleats.

"I felt I had to give something back to Ahmedabad for everything it gave me professionally. Hence my collection is a tribute to the city. 

His experience at NID taught him how beautiful a simple fabric can be.

"The idea was to do something with pastels and neutral shades. So I took basic motifs of Ahmedabad and incorporated it in the collection."

The blue colour in his collection is meant to reflect the royalty in Ahmedabad.

"I was in Ladakh for five months and I took inspiration from the natural colours of the Pashmina for the collection." 

Growing up years 

Remembering the time when he was three and had to wear a red velvet blazer to school, Padma says, "I just couldn't understand why I had to choose a velvet blazer rather than the comfortable cotton shirts my father wore to work."

He didn't like the fabric and just couldn't understand why he had to wear velvet. 

That was the first time he got introduced to different fabrics and since then the curiosity kicked in.

Watch the video to see the outfit he'd like Deepika to wear.

Making the cut at LFW

While this was his first time at LFW, Padma first showcased his collection at Wills Lifestyle Fashion Week.

He has also done a show with Woolmark -- he was among the Top 8 designers doing Wool Runway Season One --and worked with Calvin Klein. 

"My experience there taught me the value of detailing."

It was this body of experience -- till date he has done 13 shows -- which helped him get an entry at LFW as a GenNext designer. 

"It's very rare to find a combination of a fashion, knitwear and textile designer in the industry. Probably that's why they decided to choose me," he adds. 

Indian weavers 

When he is not taking the help of weavers and artisans in villages to create extra-ordinary outfits, Padma spares some time to teach them.

"I teach them the art of creating commercial garment."

"There is a need for designers to be actively involved in reviving traditional handlooms and also helping the artisans with their livelihood."

"The idea of working with artisans and incorporating handicrafts in my collection was to value and show respect to these people.

"There are weavers in the interiors of India who spin cotton with their hands and earn a mere ₹10 on a daily basis. While there are industries creating one lakh units a day. That is not justified.

"At least 180 grams of cotton is needed to create a shirt and these poor weavers spin just 10 grams of cotton on a daily basis. Which means they need to work for 18 days to get enough cotton for a shirt."

Padma Raj Keshri

Padma found inspiration in the still environs of Ladakh for his LFW debut.

One celeb you'd like to dress

"It has to be Deepika Padukone for sure!

"I am a huge fan of Deepika since the time she acted in Om Shanti Om. I was in Class 12 when the movie released.

"She loves to experiment and can carry about anything." 

Colours for 2018

"Neutrals. It goes with everything and almost every skin tone."

Trends of 2018

"We're going back to basics. Fancy and out-of-the box styles are good. But you can't wear it on a regular basis."

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Anita Aikara / Rediff.com
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