Lead Designer , Export Strategy Consultant
Client: Ministry of Textiles, Thirubhuvanam Silk Weavers Cooperative, Tamil Nadu.
The Thirubhuvanam Silk Weaver’s Cooperative has been a key producer of highest quality silk saris in this region. The cooperative is best known for its use of pure zari (gold thread) and dyeing quality. The cooperative was the only of its kind to be ISO 9001:2008 certified.
While these silk saris have a reasonable local market, the future is clearly a dilemma between dwindling number of skilled artisans and rising cost of silks and gold (used in the zari). The Ministry of Textiles identified this cooperative as one that had immense potential and has supported and funded this Export Promotion Project at the Cooperative to improve their product portfolio for new markets with product diversification. The project involved assessing their current skills and strengths of this cooperative and coming up with a design strategy to reach out to new markets. I have worked with this cooperative at two market levels – diversified product range for the local markets (India) and development of new fabric weights for export. This was mainly for the luxury contract market in Europe.
The challenge for design intervention was beyond just producing new designs. Weaver motivation in this cooperative has been the biggest issue. Inspite of using existing infrastructure for weaving (thus reducing technology investment costs), weavers clearly voted for weaving zari products as their wages were surprisingly linked to this.
Over a hundred new design collections of home textiles were produced for this project over a period of 4 years which were woven subsequently and presented at various international fairs.
Many reports and Recommendations were written to the Planning Commission after this project to help form a better support framework and Policy for weavers in the susbequent Five Year Plans.
Read more about my travels and the project here.