Kerala's skills sector can dominate global trends in fashion and design, Kerala Academy of Skills Excellence (KASE) managing director Sriram Venkitaraman has said.
The handloom sector can be revamped to suit the tastes of the global fashion community, the young IAS officer told Onmanorama on the sidelines of the recently concluded India Fashion Summit (IFS) in Kochi.
“I purchase cotton handloom shirts from Amazon.com. But I surely cannot reach a weaver who has woven it. Kerala's handloom communities are scattered across the geography in pockets like Balaramapuram, Kannur and Kollam. Kerala handloom is a skill sector that hasn't yet got the level of attention it deserves,” he said.
He said the young and creative business aspirants in fashion here would be ensured better exposure and mentoring by stalwarts. “It is to introduce our native talent to national and international communities that we associate with India Fashion Incubator (IFI). We wish to give the young designers here a glimpse of the fashion world out there," he said.
Detailing his plans for the handloom sector, he said that it was high time we innovated in craft and projected the sector as a signature one of Kerala. “We have to think afresh for our weavers. Kerala handloom is a niche area when it comes to fashion. We don't have to emulate Banaras or Rajastan. We have to tread our own path. That's the only way Kerala handloom can become a sustainable sector,” he said.
On the major hurdles Kerala's skills sector faced, he said handloom was just one of the many non-unified skill sectors of Kerala. “Not many know that we have a state-run institute called Kerala state institute for design. We want people to realize that fashion designing is a very practical career option. Connecting our traditional weaver communities and linking them to the global market under a single valuable brand is the first part of it,” he said.
Sriram says that this strategy would ensure the right remuneration for artisans. “We buy handloom dress by paying luxury prices. Unfortunately, this does not reach the craftsmen who prepared them. KASE offers three courses, fashion designing, communication design and product design. All these three courses together will cater to the industries from pottery making to mobile phone manufacturing,” he added.
He said KASE intended to come up with more such schools in the state.