Gaurang’s Journey in the Fashion Industry

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They say what you see as a child remains in your unconscious mind forever. We guess this is what happened with designer Gaurang Shah. As a kid, he used to sit in his father’s sari shop in Hyderabad, running his tender hands through traditional textiles and weaves, until he fell in love with the vibrant colours and began to dream of working with them. What started as a dream is reality today. With about 600 weavers across the length and breadth of India and a well-known label ‘Gaurang’, his quest to resuscitate Indian textile has raised the bar in Indian fashion.

From Patolas to Kanjeevaram, he has given a unique twist to traditional saris and still maintained their essence. They spell grandeur and are an amalgamation of Indian designs and Western influences. “Though it is important to match the expectation of modern fashion consumers, we believe it is very important not to deviate from our traditions that bring more vigour and vitality to handlooms,” observes Shah. We get candid with him to know more about his label and journey.
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How difficult was it to start your own line and get the right people to work for you?
The most difficult part was to motivate unrelenting weavers, who felt that handlooms would fade away. It was an arduous task to stimulate them with new designs and give them assurance from the premium marketplace. As I introduced new designs that would challenge their skills, they began to gain confidence in raising their skill bar. Initially, I began my textile and fashion design revival with a humble team of 10 weavers in Andhra Pradesh. Today, I work with over 600 weavers spread across India.
Considering you work with traditional crafts that are unchanged over millennia, how do you create your moodboard and move ahead from season to season?
I am inspired by nature and the details of every art form that we find around us. What is even more inspiring is the six-yard fabric that gives me scope to expand my creative vision. If you follow my journeys, you will find stories of ‘Panchatantra’, the artistry of Taj Mahal and the ancient temple art of the south of India. There is so much to discover and explore. I believe the technique my weavers and I follow have no boundaries and it has unlimited potential.
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How has the industry changed from the time you took up fashion?
There is a tremendous change since I began my pursuit to bring handlooms and the sari back in vogue. Today, you will find many young designers in the fray, which did not exist before. Even prestigious fashion platforms like the Lakme Fashion Week have a dedicated ‘Indian Textile Day’ in its Itinerary now. Handlooms have also become diverse. Now many see great amount of innovation in khadi, cotton and silks that suit their moods and occasions. However, the fact that celebs and fashion consumers are beginning to add Indian textiles in their shopping bags is a positive sign as well.
You have been called a revivalist. How difficult it was for you to bring back Indian weaves? 
I almost gave up when I found that my shelves were overflowing with my creative work and there were no shoppers willing to pay the premium price for the painstaking hand-woven work. But I had strong faith in its beauty and longevity. It was a slow and steady growth. Today, my shelves are empty much before some stocks even arrive as customers know what they can expect and we have orders flowing well in advance.
It was also more challenging to convince weavers to return to work that they were giving up. As the demand grew and my work constantly began to keep them busy, the revival happened. They are a smiling lot both on the economic front and the challenge they are able to overcome in terms of bringing intricate designs to life.
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