Handlooms have always been an integral part of Indian culture. Much before the mechanical looms took over the market, handlooms were a representation of India’s rich cultural legacy. It was not only a significant source of income for the weavers involved in the sector, but also a matter of pride for those who adorn it. As India celebrates National Handloom Day today on 7 August, the industry says that ecommerce and online market have helped the revival of handlooms in the country.
Shalini Gupta, General Manager, Taneira, a Tata brand, says that online retail and omni-channel strategies have played a crucial role in the revival of handlooms. “By integrating traditional weaving practices with modern retail channels, handloom products have reached a wider audience, transcending geographical boundaries. Online platforms have provided greater visibility to artisans, enabling direct sales and fair pricing. The seamless shopping experience offered through omni-channel platforms has attracted a new generation of consumers, appreciating the authenticity and uniqueness of handloom products. As the ethnic wear market embraces a younger consumer base, omni-channel strategies have become an inevitable necessity.”
Raghav Mittal, Chief Creative Director & Managing Director at Delhi based House of Surya says, “Ecommerce has been a transformative force in the revival of handlooms, rekindling the flame of traditional craftsmanship. By providing a global platform, it has connected artisans directly with a diverse clientele, transcending geographical barriers. Online avenues enable us to narrate the stories behind each weave, fostering a deeper connection between customers and the rich heritage woven into these fabrics. It empowers artisans by offering sustainable livelihoods and preserving their ancestral skills. Through digital presence, we’ve not only ignited a renewed interest in handlooms but also infused them with modern aesthetics, ensuring their relevance in contemporary fashion.”
Vishal Gourisaria, Director of Kolkata based Straavi says the onset of e-commerce for handlooms, there is a wider audience to reach out to with a wider variety of products, where buyers get more variety to match their own personal choice and taste. “Through e-commerce, our younger generation is also more aware about our traditional handcrafts and handlooms in the textile industry, thus encouraging them to adorn these beautiful handloom sarees too, and it also showcases our rich culture across India, be it in different varieties like Kanjeevaram, Banarasi, Bandhani, Ikkat, Masru Silk, and so on. It also helps one know the true worth of these sarees and the hard work which is put into the creation of each saree piece, to make it a timeless piece which can be passed on from one generation to the other,” he says.
Gunjan Jindal Poddar, Founder, Amala Earth, an ecommerce marketplace that promotes sustainability opines that by supporting brands that engage artisanal communities situated across the length and breadth of the country, such ecommerce platforms offer a crucial link for showcasing these handmade weaves. “Not only does it offer a steady livelihood to women-led ancillary units but also offers contemporary consumers access to linen and cotton sarees, Banarasi dupattas, Chanderi dresses, and so much more,” says Poddar.
Shambhavi Singh, a young entrepreneur and founder of Patna based Tayet says that digital media and online sales have played an important role in creating awareness among the customers about the different crafts of the country. “In the times when people are headed towards fast moving fashion and machine made clothes, e-commerce bridged the gap between the consumer and the craft. After penetration of the internet, handlooms became
accessible to craft lovers. The small businesses and e-commerce disrupted the market of handloom by keeping the price genuine and affordable. The disruption led to price control and promotion of handloom,” says Singh. She added that brands now source directly from weavers which benefits both the buyer and the artisan as there are no operational costs involved in online retail.
Jayashree Nanaiah, Co-founder of Bengaluru based Kanjeevaram brand Loukya says that the recent years have seen the handloom industry getting greater recognition with increased demand for handcrafted products. “Various schemes GI tag and National Handloom Day is bringing awareness of the importance of handloom heritage and e-commerce is playing a transformative role in supporting the handloom sector. The handloom products are now easily accessible to larger customer base through online platforms eliminating the need of middlemen and opening up new markets,” she said.
Ritu Oberoi, Founder, ForSarees feels that E-commerce is working like a Loom to wardrobe solution. “We believe e-commerce helps promote the craft to a wider audience,” says Oberoi. Her sentiments are echoed by Anu Mehra, Founder of Charisma by Anu Mehra, “The recent integration of blockchain technologies in handloom industries around the world show promising results for using technology to support handloom sales. This allows the handloom industry to use the apparel sector to share information about how and by whom a product is made, therefore ensuring publicity, but also allows consumers to verify the ethicality of the product they’re purchasing. With government funding for such transparency practices, technology could be used to support and strengthen handlooms in the post-globalisation era.”
Basant Rai of Digiloom, which sources directly from the weavers and retails online says that ecommerce has been a boon for both the handloom weavers and lovers. “While for the weavers, it removes the middleman and thus helps them get better returns of their products, for the handloom connoisseurs, it helps them get the product by just sitting in their homes.
With online retail, we are able to connect a weaver from Madhya Pradesh to a buyer in Lucknow or even US in just a few minutes,” says Rai.
The revival of handloom found its support from even an FMCG brand like Tata Consumer Products. TCP is launching its independence day campaign through a special packaging promoting handlooms of India. Puneet Das, President, Tata Consumer Products said, “India’s diverse heritage is perhaps most vividly and visibly captured in the handlooms of India. On the eve of Independence Day, Tata Tea Premium pays homage to this diverse and unique artform through a limited-edition pack collection inspired by the handlooms of India with its Desh Ke Dhaage campaign.”
Das added, “The tea packs reach lakhs of Indian households and we saw this as a powerful medium of rich visual storytelling empowering the cause of handlooms. Each pack serves as a resplendent canvas, bringing alive the incredible artistry of Indian craftsmen and their timeless creations. From Banarasi Silk in UP to Kanjeevaram from Tamil Nadu, each handloom spins a yarn of immense cultural pride. This campaign is a sheer celebration of the dedication and passion of the skilled craftsmen who have kept these traditions alive for generations. Tata Tea Premium will contribute a percentage of what consumers spend on this collection for the welfare of the artisan community.”