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Save The Weave

When human hands and heart work in tandem, that is grace in the making. Handwoven cloth has beauty and grace that is significant. - Sadhguru

Save The Weave

When human hands and heart work in tandem, that is grace in the making. Handwoven cloth has beauty and grace that is significant. - Sadhguru

kolam-blue

Introduction

Save the Weave is a movement initiated by Isha Foundation to bring awareness globally and in India about the need to shift to natural fibres.

India is home to more than 136 unique weaves, mostly in the form of sarees. Traditionally woven in cotton and silk, sarees are the backbone of Indian Handloom sector that is rapidly being replaced by machines and synthetic fibres.

The current generation of skilled weavers could be the last ones engaged in the handloom sector with the younger generation having moved on to newer industries.

The techniques of cultivating organic cotton, preparatory processes for weaving, the intricacy of weaving styles, use of natural dyes in dyeing fabric and printing techniques are all inspired by culture and region. This art form needs to be preserved so that the traditional knowledge is not lost. Traditionally, these sustainable methods have created their own ecosystems for empowerment of local communities, especially women.

Global Consumption of synthetic fibre clothing is a huge concern today, impacting not only the environment but also people's health.

Save the Weave will create a platform for connecting weaver products directly to the market through Ishalife.com. It will also connect resources in design, natural dye interventions, market access, organic cotton farming, technical support and skill development.

Why Save the Weave

A History of Indian Textiles

For a century during 1680-1780, Indian cloth was the most sought-after fabric in Europe, surging past even spices as the biggest export commodity. The English and Dutch imported a million pieces of cloth a year, and the French about 300,000.

Before the British Raj, weavers as a community commanded considerable bargaining power with merchants. The East India Company passed laws that forbade weavers from buying raw material and enforced selling finished products only to the Company. The Indian weaving industry was systematically dismantled. In 1834, the Governor General reported: “The bones of hand-weavers are bleaching the plains of India.”

The value of textile exports from India fell by 98% between 1800 and 1860 and the value of textile Imports increased by 6300% in the same period.

The Indian Textile Industry Today

Textiles are the biggest employment generator in India after agriculture. While this is reflected in the GDP and export figures, it has not effectively led to bettering the lives of the farmers, the hand spinners and handloom weavers.

India is home to over 136 unique weaves and scores of hand-dyeing and printing techniques. Of these, around 55 weaves are on the verge of extinction. Although India has a large share in world trade of cotton yarn, its trade in garments is only 4% of the world's total. Handloom contributes nearly 15% of cloth production in the country, and India accounts for 95% of the world’s hand-woven fabrics.

Although the share of handloom in textile production is small in terms of percentage and revenue at present, it provides employment to 4.4 million weaver families including women in rural areas. If the handmade textile market is expanded globally and nationally, it has the capacity to provide employment to millions more and become an active participant in the $900 billion global textile/garment industry.

Natural Fibre vs Synthetic Fibre

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Our Approach

How to create awareness

It would be constructive if the Government of India runs a campaign (on the lines and scale of Swachch Bharat) to bring nation-wide awareness about the many fine aspects of our natural handmade textiles and their health benefits.

As a part of the campaign, influencers and celebrities should be urged to commit to organic-handloom textiles in a way that at least 25% of their wardrobe consists of such fabrics.

Apart from active involvement from the government, individual designers, corporations and experts from the textile industry can make a meaningful contribution through the following initiatives:

Design Facilitation

When it comes to textile, there is an urgent need to shift from disposable to sustainable. Designers have an important responsibility and a key role to play in reversing the damage that fast fashion has inflicted on the environment.

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Organic Cotton Farming

Helping farmers move from the soil-damaging and polluting GM cotton to ecologically sustainable organic cotton.

Skill Development

Weaving is the process of making clothing by interlacing fibre threads. India is a vast and diverse country with a rich history of weaving.

Weavers Stories

Khadi, Gandhigram, Tamil Nadu

The wheel of time has stopped spinning in many households in Gandhigram who were counting on the threads of Khadi for their livelihood.

Bengal Muslin and Jamdani

Bengal has been a producer of hardy, ecologically viable desi cotton varieties for hundreds of years and is home to the planet’s finest muslin fabric.

Balarampuram Handloom

A small hilly hamlet near the historical city of Thiruvananthapuram boasts of a tradition that rejuvenated the lives of 1800 tribal women over 38 years ago.

Natural Fibers

Natural fibers are produced naturally by plants, animals, and geological processes. Cotton is the most widely used natural fibre and entire civilizations have clothed themselves in cotton for millennia. Silk and wool were also common with the latter being widely used in colder climates.

The industrial era ushered in an age of synthetic fibres which were manufactured using chemical processes. Produced in the 1930s, Nylon was the first synthetic fibre to become widespread.

The advent of synthetic fibres started a textile revolution because they were cheaper, stronger, more durable and easier to mass produce. However, these fibres pose a serious hazard to the health of human beings and to the environment. They are toxic to the skin, non-biodegradable and disintegrate into microfibers that do not decompose and poison the ecosystem.

Natural fibres such as organic cotton, banana, coconut, bamboo, linen, hemp, and a wide variety of silks made from different kinds of silkworms have captured the imagination of a new breed of designers, manufacturers and consumers. The future is here. The future is natural fibre.

Banana Fibre

These fabrics are soft, supple, breathable and absorbent. They have a natural shine and are often compared to silk.

Mulberry Silk

India produces around 23,000 metric tons of silk annually, out of which 81% is mulberry silk.

Natural Dyed Denim

Woven on hand-operated looms, natural dyed denim eliminates the high energy and water needs of conventional denim.

Linen

Made from the fibers of the flax plant, Linen is very strong, absorbent, and comfortable to wear in hot weather.

Natural Dyed Hemp

Hypo-allergenic, absorbent and fire retardant, hemp is one of the strongest and most durable natural textile fibers.

Dupion Silk

Famous by the names of Douppioni or Dupioni, it is also commonly known as raw silk.

Eri Silk

This beautiful silk is very strong, combining the excellence of silk with the comfort of cotton and warmth of wool.

Organic Cotton

Grown from untreated cotton seeds, organic cotton is the first step in creating an eco-friendly cycle of garment production.

Muga Silk

Muga silk is procured from a species of silkworms whose cocoons are known for producing gleaming, golden fibres.

Contact Us

Know More About Save The Weave
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In the News

Fashion For Peace: Season One: Eyes on India / Eyes on New York

Know Culture - 12 Apr, 2019

Designers Norma Kamali, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Mara Hoffman, and Mimi Prober along with Sadhguru and the Isha Foundation presented Fashion For Peace (FFP), a first time fashion initiative whose mission is to promote conscious design while simultaneously supporting global artisans/designers and their work.

Sadhguru and the Isha foundation curated over one hundred exclusive Indian textiles that have been woven in a steeped tradition for approx. 5,000 years (see textile list below). The process and art form is threatened by fast fashion and family members choosing to attend college rather than continue the textile traditions. These coveted techniques will soon be extinct if not preserved and fostered.

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