Adirag, thriving on Indian roots
Aditi Garg belongs to a family for whom business is a legacy but her desire to be a self-made person made her keep looking for more. She holds a Masters in Management from University of Westminster (London) and Post Graduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship (PGDE) from The Judge Business School, University of Cambridge.
Being away from home, she finally found the answer. With a passion for fashion and an urge to promote the precious Indian craftsmanship, she recognised the market opportunity and started ‘Adirag’ in 2014. Adirag is a fashion company committed to empowering the artisan community of India. Aditi tells us how Adirag is helping the artisans match the palate of the modern buyer, “By partnering with artisans across the country, we are not only preserving the rich and diverse culture of India, but also offering contemporary-chic and sophisticated fashion products.
It initially began with exports and merchandising of fashion accessories. When she first started working designs, her sources of inspiration were always from the west. However, gradually, she started seeking inspiration closer home.
“I realised that the traditional arts and crafts of India have shown a decline over the past few decades. After prospering for centuries, many arts are now fighting for survival. One of the major reasons is that artists are not getting their due and are being forced to live and work in poverty, as middlemen eat away their earnings. Artists, especially from the young generation, are finding far more lucrative employment options.” She says.
India has always boasted a diverse and rich cultural heritage and ethnic art. But unfortunately, western trends have proliferated so deep that our own traditions are becoming a secondary choice. The irony is that many international designers like Zuhair Murad and Roberto Cavalli have showcased collections on the global catwalk that draw inspiration from Indian roots.
Adirag pivoted its vision into not just preserving but also to advancing these Indian art forms like embroideries and taking it to a path of revival. Aditi says, “The idea is to take the art to the maximum number of viewers, to showcase it to people who may not be familiar with the style. At the same time, because the narratives are contemporary, the modern viewer can relate to it. If we want to preserve our traditional arts, the first step is to build awareness.”
She started examining the rich Indian textile history, travelling extensively to museums, libraries and meeting karigars. She learnt a lot about the different types of embroideries and how to differentiate between handmade and machine embroidery. “I pursued royalties, curators, weavers and artisans across the country in search of authenticity and to revive the old tradition of embroidery making. On research, I found some specific areas in cities like Agra, Bareilly, Kolkata known for these embroideries since olden times and personally interacted with the karigars I met there”, says Aditi. These artisans also helped her gather more information about the roots of the traditional technique. In this process she widened her artisan network. Many of them now work with Adirag.
The truth we forget too often
The artisans in India are the backbone of the non-farm rural Indian economy; however they are a perishing breed. She adds, “There is a high demand for these products in the Indian as well as global market but India’s share is below 2% representing a tremendous growth opportunity.”
Who learns from whom?
It’s a two way street. The intricate designing part is naturally left to the artisans. Aditi gives them a basic idea of what she’s looking for with sketched motifs on a computer. “It helps in standardising and explaining the look I’m going for to them. It is up to them on how to make it look exclusive with the embroideries.” On the other hand, there are cases when the artisans show Aditi a sample of their latest design and she’s bowled over. She then thinks of ways of incorporating the designs to create something that will look luxe and will appeal to the savvy.
Source : Social Story