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Documenting South Asian Textile Traditions
The clothes we wear are not just a reflection of our personal tastes and preferences, but also a mode of communicating our personalities and style to the world. Similarly, fashion design trends of a particular period say a lot about the people and the geographies they occupied, the politics and diplomacy of governments, and the kinds of societies that existed. Clothing patterns have evolved through the centuries– from patterns to prints, folds to fabrics, sizes to silhouettes, colors to cuts. Fashion, therefore, becomes an encapsulation of cultural history as it captures the zeitgeist.
Internationally recognised for its incredibly skilled artisans, ancient handloom technology, several complex weaving practices, and unique fabrics and dyes, South Asia acts as an important node in global fashion. Join our speakers, Susan Thomas, Pavithra Muddaya, and Yashodhara Shroff in a conversation moderated by Prasad Bidapa, as they discuss fashion and textiles that document the history and heritage of cultures and societies. The panellists will weave a tapestry of experiences, anecdotes and examples from their work in documenting, reviving, and promoting the rich textile traditions of South Asia.
In collaboration with the Museum of Art & Photography, Bengaluru
Susan Thomas is the Director of the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Bengaluru. An IRS officer of the 2001 batch, she is an alumna of JNU, New Delhi and the University of Oxford. She worked with the Income Tax Department in the Ministry of Finance for 17 years before moving on deputation to the Ministry of Textiles. A three-time TedX speaker, she was recently picked by Shethepeopletv in their list of 40 under 40 for her content on Instagram shattering gender myths and stereotypes. She was also picked by Elle India for her social media content that covers handcraft, textiles and gender. She is a handloom buff and curated the first ever Bengaluru handloom Fest, BLOOM in August 2021.
Pavithra Muddaya has worked in the handloom sector in India for the last 48 years. She is the managing trustee of the Vimor Handloom Foundation and started the Vimor Museum of living textiles in Bangalore. She has been part of both the Central and State Ministry of textiles.
Her primary mission is design development, documentation of oral history, traditional designs and techniques of heritage handloom. The foundation works on skilling and supporting weavers, and it is actively involved in relief and employment generation in this covid-era. Through her work at Vimor, a home store started along with her mother Chimy, she has impacted hundreds of weavers and associated labour.
Yashodhara Shroff is the Chairperson and Managing Director of ffolio – South India’s first and one of India’s leading designer wear boutiques, established in 1991. It houses all the leading designer labels of the country as well as certain international brands. ffolio has always actively promoted the crafts and textiles of India. It has the distinction of being the first point of retail of several of India’s leading names, such as JJ Valaya, Anamika Khanna, Jason Cherian etc. Through the years, Shroff has succeeded in making ffolio synonymous with promoting new talent and does so even today. She has had the distinction of establishing several firsts in retail marketing and promotional campaigns, which have subsequently become standard in the Indian fashion retail industry.
Shroff was the Chairperson of the FICCI Ladies Organisation – Bangalore Chapter in the year 2018-19, as well as a member of the Executive Committee of the Bangalore International Centre (BIC) for two years 2020 to 2022. She has studied at Northwestern University, USA as well as the Art Institute of Chicago, USA and holds a BS in economics from St. Xavier’s College in Calcutta University.
Prasad Bidapa is a pioneer in the Indian fashion industry for the last four decades. An iconic fashion guru of India and alumni of NID Ahmedabad, he is the creator of high-profile events including India Men’s Fashion Week, Colombo International Fashion Week, Kingfisher Fashion Awards and Mega Model Hunt.
A textile expert himself, he has presented the Rajasthan Heritage Week since 2015. This is a project he developed for the Khadi Board, for the Government of Rajasthan. This is considered to be one of the most successful khadi and handloom revival projects in the country.
He has presented shows in the USA, Japan, Sweden, the Middle East, Singapore, Sri Lanka and other nations. In 2019, he presented the Mahatma Gandhi Sesquicentennial Show at the Embassy of India, Qatar.
He is currently working with various government departments to create similar handloom revival projects in various other Indian states. He works with national and international designers to present the products of India in hand loomed cotton, wool, silk and khadi.