Project LooM

Project LooM showcases and celebrates the people, places and processes behind India’s wonderful handwoven sarees.

Every now and then, I work with select brands with aligned values.

Project LooM is a collaboration between Taneira: the handcrafted textiles arms of Titan: a Tata Company– and me.

Please visit projectloom.in to see what resulted.

 

Lady communing with the divine at Someshwara temple in Ulsoor, Bangalore

HANDCRAFTED LUXURY

What is it about the saree that evokes such love amongst Indians? Is it the “purity of the unstitched cloth” as some call it? Is it the fact that it is so forgiving for all body types? Is it the sensuousness of the drape that is both playful and sexy?

Is it simply that India has managed to retain this garment unlike say, Japan that has lost its kimono or China, its cheong-sam or even Vietnam, its ao dai.

The saree endures. The saree prevails in India. I love it.

AUTHENTIC STYLE

India is unparalleled in the range of sarees that it offers.

Each region has specific and special motifs, draping styles, and colours that are anchored in the land and its people.

How marvellous this is and how lucky we are to have access to the saree: six to nine yards that epitomises the purity of the unstitched cloth.

One that is woven through our history, geography and culture.

One that is part of our collective unconsciousness as a people.

Project LooM is a website I founded and co-created.  It began in October 2017, when I wrote to Taneira to ask if they might support a website that would showcase and celebrate Indian weaves.

Taneira is an evolved company and they understood my pitch immediately. It wasn’t about brand marketing. It was about craft.

In January 2019, we unveiled the first edition on Kanchipuram. Since then we have done Chanderi, Jamdani, Khadi and Gujarat.

Below is what I wrote for the Welcome section of Project LooM. It explains the project and people.

Project LooM is a partnership between lovers of Indian handloom.  There will be many “editions,” which are designed like magazine issue.

 

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How Project LooM came to be

It began as a series of conversations between me and my friend, Nandita Lakshmanan.

Taneira came on board to support LooM in early 2018 and thus it began. The first edition is Kanchipuram, then Chanderi, then West Bengal, and on it goes.

Project LooM could not have happened without the support of the following people.

Rajeshwari Srinivasan, CEO of Taneira.

And before her, Ajoy Chawla and Shyamala Ramanan at Titan/Taneira.

Isha Sahu for the sensitive coordination and facilitation. And before her, Naomi Raphael.

Anindita Sardar, Kausalya Satyakumar, Dikshita Pant, Manjunath D., B.B. Paul and many others at Taneira for their help in introducing LooM to weaving clusters all over India.

Thanks also to…..

Jacob Kurian, who introduced Ajoy to me.

Calligrapher and architect, Dharmesh Jadeja from Auroville for designing the logo. And drawing out several variations of the logo. And for putting up with my persnicketiness about how to dot the line and curve the y.

Ulhas Anand, my birder friend and Bird Podcast collaborator for the website design. Among other things, Ulhas organizes Bengaluru Bird Day and runs Ecoedu, for environmental education. Thanks, Ulhas for creating the website and all the social media pages.

Red Bangle Film Collaborative: where a vibrant group of young filmmakers come together to make magic…and films. Thanks, Lakshmi Rebecca and Shibani Naidu: for the video films that accompany the website.

I make all the shorter amateur films but Red Bangle produces the 3-4 main films that are on top of the Youtube page of each edition.

Luxury has many definitions and goes by many monikers: limited edition, customized, bespoke, handcrafted, handwoven, specific, rare, hard to get, unusual, painstakingly made.

Sourced the right way, a handwoven saree conforms to all these definitions.

In that sense, a well-made saree is Indian luxury at its finest.

Check out our Youtube channel for over 50 short videos on various aspects of weaving, dyeing and yarn.