Soft and soothing shades. Lots of floral motifs. The touch of the hand and the cause of nature at heart. That’s home-grown label Shivani Bhargava (inset), which works with handloom clusters and weavers from different parts of India “to create endless opportunities for craftsmen”. We caught up with Shivani, founder of the label, on her spring-summer collection Bahaar and the journey so far.
Are you a flower person? What are your favourites?
Absolutely. I love nature and it’s my biggest inspiration. Definitely a variety of magnolias such as jasmine, champa are among the favourites.
Bahaar is decked with flowers. What kinds do we see in the designs?
Magnolias are in focus in Bahaar.
Which clusters have you worked with for the collection?
We have worked with weavers from Chanderi, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
You have a fondness for lighter colours and softer palettes...
Yes I do admire something that’s light and easy. I feel it brings out more of an individual personality and also it is more of the seasonal colour palette and, of course, lighter colours and pastels do contribute as the summer coolers, but they are also my personal favourites.
What has been your experience like in this decade? What have been the challenges and what have you enjoyed most?
Times are evolving at lightning speed and all of us need to slow ourselves down and reflect more on the sustainable and minimalistic way of living, what we call slow fashion, these days. I’ve enjoyed the growth journey of our label in terms of identifying the right artisans who can create the purest and softest form of fabrics. As a brand, every day comes with a different challenge and unexpected outcomes. I’ve loved every bit of building our brand story. Mainly finding the right people who understand our brand aesthetic, making sure they are well aware of their craft was a challenge in itself.
My wardrobe is all about handwoven Bengal jamdani muslins, solid silks, khadi tunics, floral Jaipuri prints, and all-time favourite whites. I work with Bengal weavers and we create our own mulberry silk, khadi cotton and linen. I love my Bengal weaves” — Shivani Bhargava
How has the pandemic affected these artisans further? What’s the current situation?
Pandemic distorted everyone’s lives in one way or the other. However, we have supported the clusters and artisans in whatever ways we could just like supplying food essentials or making sure salaries were paid as much as we could. The good thing about India is that it is rewriting the handcraft and handloom story and the world is reading it with all the interest. Hence artisans and weavers are in a very good space right now. But of course, we all need to make sure that they are paid well and recognised without any lapse. We are because of our weavers and artisans. They bring our vision to reality I would say, and it’s very important to put them on a pedestal now.
What are your long-term and short-term goals for the crafts clusters?
With craft clusters we wanted them to be self-reliant and work on their core strengths because working on strengths will always benefit them in the long-term scenario, and for the short term we always tried to bring out their creative side.
What do you enjoy working with most?
Of course designing a new collection always gives an adrenaline rush. The process of bringing a thought to reality, I love how everyone comes together to execute a beautiful vision.
What does your wardrobe comprise?
My wardrobe is all about handwoven Bengal jamdani muslins, solid silks, khadi tunics, floral Jaipuri prints, and all-time favourite whites. I work with Bengal weavers and we create our own mulberry silk, khadi cotton and linen. I love my Bengal weaves.