Smocking an antidote on indigenous textiles

Born and brought up in Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand, a northern Himalayan state of India, Anjali Bahuguna of Brih is conscious of her surrounding, fragile ecosytem. Having done Bio Medical Engineering, she is into trading medical equipment since the past 12 years. Though in 2014 & 15 she pursued her passion for clothes by doing a two year Professional Programme in Fashion Design from Fashionista – The School of Fashion Technology .

Her label’s devnagri logo ब ॰ र ॰ इ ॰ ह signifies its Indian roots which means to grow or evolve in Sanskrit. With an effort to maximize the use of hand embroidery on sustainable natural fabrics, through slow fashion BRIH is working around the skillsets of the Indian craftsmen….minimalism, purity and rawness of nature can be felt in their garments.

7th August was chosen to commemorate our Swadeshi Movement which was launched on this day in 1905 in Calcutta Town Hall to protest against the partition of Bengal by the British Government. The movement aimed at reviving domestic products and production processes – one being handloom which means either handspun and mill-woven or mil-spun and handwoven. Based on slowliving, durability, and longevity this young label became my obvious choice on National Handloom Day.

But not before knowing and witnessing in person few of her best practices like zero wastage through sample pieces made to her size, cloth scrap used as tags and neat and clean working conditions for the artisans at her unit in Sarita Vihar, New Delhi.


MD: What are the values you connect with a handloomed fabric?

AB: In a textile rich country like India, ‘Handloom’ sector is second largest livelihood provider after agriculture. As part of a society and one of the oldest industries of Indian economy, I feel responsible to provide work to as many weavers and artisans as possible and up their ante!

They make ideal everyday wear through our 6 seasons without digging deep into our pockets; with just a simple ‘handwash at home’ care instruction.

MD: Whose work do you admire in handloom and design?

AB: In handloom I admire Gaurang Shah while in design Sabyasachi has been the undisputed king since long.

MD: You started BRIH in February, this year. What would you like to achieve with this label?

AB: My dream is to reach out to the masses, educating them about the beauty and luxury of handloom.

MD: But handlooms are viewed as expensive for the masses!

It’s expensive because masses are not using it and spinning are few in number as it is labour intensive and time consuming. A skewed demand and supply compels a real need for its revival. Once upon a time our weavers and spinners earned decently making Khadi. But, with English and French Industrial Revolutions affecting the textile industry first, the commoners in India were left with no choice than to consume fast fashion made on power looms for their fineness, price and easy availability. The weavers began using mill-spun yarn or handspinning was done by the spinners for mill made fabric, like in the case of ‘Handloom’.

Post-Independence, despite several government schemes and interventions since 1958, its supply had drastically dipped until recently. Now many designers can be seen cashing in on the latest Khadi and Handloom trend.

Look out for our handloom festive and winter collections!


Her present handloom range woos you from far but the icing on the cake for me is the age-old smocking done minimalistically for adults. Raising the bar with her recent collection, I’m hoping in the near future she incorporates Jacobean, Crewel and Tudor embroideries on sustainable indigenous textiles as that is what I wish to wear. It maybe more than a century later but surely by using these embroideries on such fabrics, she’d silently be making a statement against the British-Raj’s heavy taxation on finished goods without being too jingoistic…BRIH has a story to tell!

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