The timeless and classic weaves of Benaras are getting their due and recognition nowadays with several established designers incorporating the craft on the fashion runways, says designer Suket Dhir, who made India proud when he won the 2015 - 2016 Menswear International Woolmark Prize earlier this year.
Known for making ensembles using natural fabrics like cotton, linen, fine mulmul and bamboo, Dhir is happy that established names like Ritu Kumar, Rina Dhaka and Manish Malhotra as well as other designers associated with the Fashion Design Council of India are trying to give a new lease of life to the craft.
Keen to use weaves like Benarasi and Jamdani weaves in his ensembles, Dhir told IANS: "For a change, Benarasi (weaves) are getting their due and recognition. . . I think that was sort of overdue. I think what is happening is right because all the other handlooms and weaves of our country have been getting prominence throughout.
"I also do intend to work with some Benarasi weavers, Jamdani weavers, and all the crafts in India if I can. "
Dhir, whose work is a blend of bohemian yet elegant style, feels the essence of Benarasi weaves was getting lost as designers chose to stick to a particular handloom for a particular period of time.
"Khadi has been really really popular for last 10 to 15 years. It is doing exceptionally well. Then, a lot of designers who work with Ikat only work with Ikat. I think Benarasi was getting lost somewhere in between, " he said.
But he asserted that "whatever is happening (attention to Benarasi weaves) is all good".
The actor credits the government for giving a push to the weaving industry in Varanasi, which is Prime Minister Narendra Modi's constituency and where officials are attempting to improve the infrastructure for textile work.
"If weavers from Benares are getting some visibility, I think that's fantastic. There is a push from the government's side because many things keep happening in Benares. . . so, there are other things attracting people towards Benares and that is good for Benarasi weavers, " added the designer, who has styled the likes of Bollywood actors like Hrithik Roshan, Varun Dhawan, Farhan Akhtar, Ranveer Singh and Nawazuddin Siddiqui.