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Garment major to weave magic
- Deal inked with national brands to promote state products

Bhubaneswar, Nov 22: Sambalpur artisan Ghanshyam Sahoo is dreaming big. And it is the state textile and handloom department that has spurred the modest weaver’s to-make-it-big dream.

To give boost to Orissa’s handloom sector and artisans like Sahoo, the state textile and handloom department has entered into tie-ups that will ensure handloom products from the state to vie with those from other states at the outlets of a popular Indian garment chain.

The department has signed up with some of the most popular national brands in handloom garments to promote the state’s handloom sector. A popular national brand, which has outlets in all major cities in India, will market the products.

As part of the deal, artisans of exclusive handloom varieties — tie and dye on cotton and silk, woven silk textiles, tassar handloom, bandha, ikat, Sambalpuri and Sonepuri sarees — are now shareholders of a community owned company (CoC). Formed in association with artisans from handloom rich areas of the state and 11 different companies from all over the country, CoC will work for infrastructure development, capacity building of weavers and marketing.

“The handloom sector has the largest rural self-employment potential next to agriculture in the state,” says L.N. Naik, director of textiles, Orissa.

“Despite some of the finest fabrics and a tremendous market potential, issues such as low productivity, decentralised production and lack of aggressive marketing strategies hamper the growth of the handloom segment,” he added.

To overcome these drawbacks, the MoUs with the national companies were finalised around four months back, he said.

The national brands are guiding the artisans in areas such as design development and marketing strategies. “The artisans hold 59 per cent shares of the company and will get dividends according to the success of the company,” Naik said.

Artisans are beginning to feel the effect of the move. They feel it is helping them to understand the market outside the state, some of the artisans said.

“We are being given training on design patterns that are popular in the national and international handloom market. Also, the finishing and tagging of the product is important we realised,” said Sahoo.

A few other projects have also been initiated by the handloom department to help the artisans. The ‘Design Reference Collection’ project with a financial outlay of Rs 1.57 crore is being implemented to produce 160 new fabrics within a year.

“We have approached international designers to guide and design handloom fabrics for our weavers and artisans. Renowned designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee has consented to be a part of the endeavour and organise national fashion shows,” Naik said.

A handloom park in Bargarh and design studios in Bhubaneswar and Sonepur for weavers are also on cards.

“The Bhubaneswar studio project has already been approved by the Handloom Export Promotional Council under the central government and will be ready by next year,” Naik said.

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