Project LooM
Jamdani People

Giving a new twist to an old textile tradition

The Designer who takes jamdani to Paris

Designer Santanu Das’s atelier lies in a quiet street in the Ballygunge area of Kolkata.  When I walk in, Das is getting read for a show in Paris: his second. His “Be Here” collection is going to be shown in Tranoi, the leading fashion trade show that happens during Paris Fashion Week.  

This year (2019), Maku Textiles, co-founded by Das is one of the few Indian designers to show there.  The collection deals with global climate change and human greed. In between organizing his visa and getting the clothes ready, Das sat down in his cozy studio surrounded by the clothes he has designed to talk about jamdani, a tradition that he has grown up with.

Watch him here or below

Profile of Santanu Das

Das is part of the creative community in Kolkata that numbers in the hundreds.  In Mumbai or Delhi, fashion designers may have a template that they follow. Here, in Kolkata, it seems, every designer has his/her own template: leisurely in pace perhaps, but focused with respect to goals and dreams.  

Das epitomizes this mix perfectly.  He fits the stereotype of the intellectual Bengali but is also very global.  He started his working career in New York before returning to India.

The global local connect

Most Bengalis grew up with this global-local connect.  They grew up with mothers wearing tangail and jamdani weaves, like Das did.  At the same time, they also grew up with parents listening to jazz in a dhuti.  They love sweets like rosagulla and sandesh, but also are comfortable presenting themselves to the global world like Swami Vivekananda and Rabindranath Tagore did.

Maku– the word refers to the shuttle used in the looms, focuses on sustainable clothing.  Indigo is a favorite for Das, as are local clusters.

“We visited some weavers who said that they do not make jamdani sarees anymore,” says Das.  “We bought their unsold jamdani sarees and thus the relationship began.”

Today Maku textiles uses jamdani buttis in its flowing indigo and white dresses.  As for Das, he continues his campaign for sustainable fashion, championing India’s textiles in the process.

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