Handloom or hand weaved sarees or products are pieces of art, since time immemorial the weavers artistically play with colors and designs to bring forth an authentic piece.
Problems faced by handloom industry due to the power looms and synthetic fibers are as follows:
Weaving a saree of six yards with threads take a minimum of two weeks to twenty days, which machine takes only a day, which is why power loom industries are capable of producing more number of units as compared to handloom.
According to Sunita Budhiraja, the Founder of the campaign #SixYardsAnd365Days, which encourages the future generation to wear saree 365 days of the year, “Today, the weavers’ craft is threatened with extinction due to power looms which offer a cheaper and faster way to produce the similar goods; it can take the weaver weeks to create what the machines can produce in a day.”
With duplicate power loom products being sold as handloom, the original products are losing their charm.
Sunita also adds, “The problem lies with the fact that Power loom products are being sold alongside and passed off as Handloom products, and at the same price, which is destroying the market for the latter. The key lies in authentic classification, differentiation, and labeling of handloom versus power loom products. We need to market each while retaining the integrity of the products and communicating authentically. We need to inform and educate the customers so that they are able to discern and understand the effort that goes behind the making of a genuine handloom product, appreciate its value and hence be willing to pay the corresponding price for it.”
The products from the power loom industries use synthetic fibers and are finished with the help of machines, which takes less time and are way cheaper than cotton threads yarned by the weavers in handloom industry.
Most people fail to identify the authenticity of the material and work, which is why they end up buying cheap power loom products for a cheap price as compared to the authenticate handloom products.
Vijayalakshmi Nachiar, Co-founder of Ethicus, says, “Cheap raw material in the form of synthetic fibers & cheap production with the use of power looms is a huge obstacle today. Similarly, mass production through power looms has flooded the market with cheap fabrics. These are being sold in the market as handlooms fabric, cheating the consumers & in the process killing the real handloom. Consumers in the process believe power loom to be handloom & are finding actual handloom products very expensive. This is like a death knell for the handloom industry.”
Skill and Knowledge:
Handloom or hand weaved sarees or products are pieces of art, since time immemorial the weavers artistically play with colors and designs to bring forth an authentic piece. It demands skill and knowledge which only these weavers are equipped with but due to power loom products, the weavers and their work are pushed to the wall.
Many weavers are either moving to the city in search of a stable job or the existing ones do not wish their future generations to suffer, which is why most weavers found these days are at the age of 35.
Nachiar says, “Skilled & talented artisans are now a scarcity. Most farmers & handloom weavers don't want their children to follow in their footsteps. Already, in most places, we don't see weavers below the age of 35.With more education, most youngsters prefer office jobs & are migrating to cities.”