Our youth should be exposed to our vibrant textiles: Deepika Cariappa


“I have always had a liking for handlooms,” comments the spirited and exuberant Deepika Cariappa, as we at Madhurya walk-the-talk with her on the travails faced by handloom weavers in pursuit of brighter days.

Stepping into the sari section at Madhurya - the arts boutique that supports nearly a thousand weavers across the country to see hand crafted arts survive - Deepika Cariappa is comfortable amidst a motley handloom collection she is treated to. What follows is a vibrant converse, a tête-à-tête on textiles, latest prints and weaves, and trending designs on social media.

As Madhurya’s design & fabric experts journey her into the world of textiles and the weaver’s loom-stories where deft hands are losing strength due to lesser demands and power loom monopoly, journalist Deepika, a Kodava born and brought up in Bengaluru (and a journalist holding a senior position in a mainstream national newspaper), says she grew up appreciating handmade and sustainability principles. “I have always enjoyed wearing cottons and handlooms. I find them extremely suitable to our climate as they are breathable, comfortable and also look great,” says Deepika who spoke to Madhurya on a range of green aspects close to her heart.


*How do you feel wearing a Madhurya, as the label looks beyond fashion...

Keeping up with the times is an undeniable aspect for anything that transcends time periods. I appreciate efforts to modernize and innovate handlooms and other such treasures to make it appealing to larger, newer sections of people. I found the unique prints I wore both fresh and modern, and I hope more people - both in India and elsewhere - start embracing such pieces.

*Like the Panda motifs you loved on your Madhurya sari?  

I loved the softness of the fabric, the unique panda and bamboo prints and the play on colours, which was a deviation from the usual. But being a cat lover, the sari with the cat prints was my favourite, made only extra special by the wonderful kittens that accompanied me on the shoot.

(The dancing panda-motifs in these saris are weaved into this completely hand-woven Muslin Jamdani. This collection was a hand-picked one from weavers in West-Bengal by Madhurya designers in their penchant to have “something new” for the young who prefer modern-day versions for quirky college shows, parties or office wear. It has a summery touch to it with bamboo shoots on its pallu.)   

*Did you like anything new sprung that you noticed on Madhurya Website? 

I was shown Alia Bhatt’s pink Deepavali lehenga, done during the pandemic, which is said to be made from textile waste, which I thought was a fantastic idea and really well done. I've also seen some saris worn by Madhuri Dixit Nene which looked amazing on her. 

 * Being a journalist helps you get closer to social issues? 

Yes of course, being a journalist and especially with the beats that I have covered has obviously made me get closer to social issues, and the arts of India under the threat of extinction is one such.

I developed a love for saris as my mother almost exclusively wears saris and had a great collection of office wear that I routinely stole once I started working. I gradually developed an interest in the different weaves available in India and abroad and started building up a collection I'm proud of - from classic Kanjeevarams and Benarasi silks to Ikkats, Chikankari and Mysore Silk.  

* Would you recommend girls of this generation to look into handmade textile-work going on at Madhurya? 

Without a doubt. It is heirloom that needs to be passed on for generations to come, and the onus is on all of us - organisations working in the space and their customers. With online shopping becoming ubiquitous, fast fashion is posing a huge threat to anything handmade, original or painstakingly made. Handlooms need to be reinvented and marketed better to appeal to present and future generations so we don't lose out on the arts that have managed to survive for centuries.

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