Meet Smitha Srinath who propagates saris in traditional weaves and designs
Smitha Srinath always had a passion for handloom saris. “I was initiated into textiles by my parents, who loved handlooms. My mother and grandmother would always buy such saris and have discussions about the style it was weaved in or designed. So, subconsciously, I inculcated a love for handlooms and also learnt about Korvais, Madurai Sungadis and so on,” explains Smitha.
Soon, she started receiving her own collection of Kanjeevaram or pochampallis. “I have an eye for design and colour,” adds the lady, who started curating handloom saris and had her first trunk sale nine years ago. She then started Maya, which sells only handloom saris in cottons and silks.
“My first sale was with just a few saris. Later, as it grew in numbers, I started dabbling in silks and discovered that some of the designs, weaves and colour combinations were dying. That is when I started travelling to meet weavers in the South, working with them and reviving some of the traditional combinations and weaves,” adds Smitha.
Showing us a silk sari, she says, “This one has a Ganga-Jamuna border. It comes with a double-sided pallu. Hence, the sari can be worn on both sides. We have revived these saris.”
Then she shows us a dark blue sari saying, “It is called MS-Blue (dedicated to MS Subbulakshmi). It has a Korvai border in pure zari and has half diamond designs.”
In a time of modern designs and colours, bringing out saris in traditional weaves and colours came with their sets of challenges. “Initially, when people came to Maya, they would ask for contemporary saris. I would be shocked as all I had were old designs in ancient colours and nothing modern. Now, they know what they get from Maya,” smiles Smitha, who adds that she is seeing a revival in handlooms as many women aged 20 years and above pick up such saris.
She works with weavers in Arni, Rasipuram and Kanchipuram to name a few. “I visit them often and we work together to bring out saris in cottons, silk cottons and silks. “The trend in colours too has changed to bright yellows, pinks and oranges. So, when I ask the weavers for a midnight blue or a snuff colour, they look at me in disbelief saying that such colours have long been buried. Persuade them a bit and they are game for it.”
Smitha studies the history of handlooms and updates herself about our past heritage.
“We have a rich history in textiles and handlooms. People feel that they are expensive. But I feel that if the demand grows, so will the production and that will surely bring down the pricing.”
To propagate handlooms, Smitha organises various exhibitions. Her next will be at Raintree on August 3 and 4. The cottons start at ?600.
To shop for her collection online you can log on to weavemaya.com and Smitha can be contacted on 9845404242.