Even while the Made in India label is gaining prominence, the role of Indian craftsmen in making the world’s most beautiful catwalk and red carpet dresses is being systematically brushed aside by European luxury brands. However, now it is time for consumers to be made aware of some of these skilled embroiderers and artisans responsible for creating the most beautiful handwork at catwalks and red carpet events.
Cheap production costs attract European brands
One of the reasons why European brands employ Indian craftsmen is the cost of making garments in Europe is around 10 times more than producing them in India. Also, getting garments embellished in India yields superior results as the country has incredibly high levels of artisanal excellence.
Some recent proof of India’s central role in European luxury can be seen from the iconic embroidered book clutches by Olympia Le-Tan; the lavender feathered spherical dresses at Jeremy Scott’s Moschino show during Milan Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2018; and the patchwork embroidered or beaded Christian Dior saddle bags for Autumn/Winter 2018.
Global export house Chanakya specialises in exquisite embellished garment creations and accessories. The company produces embroideries for brands including Saint Laurent, Balmain, Giambattista Valli, Prada, Valentino, Céline, Gucci and Loewe. One of the company’s most striking accomplishments includes the Versace-Lopez dress whose embroidery was made from recycled PET sequins especially laser-cut in customised shapes.
Indian embroidery offers an intoxicating mix of ancient influences drawn from silk route trading, Persian invasion, centuries of internal migration, trade with China and diverse local-cultural beliefs. Indian artisans use unique craft techniques such as embroidery on leather with real gold thread, or gossamer fine chikankari that are widely acclaimed.
Intricate design drives embroidery broking business
India has played a key role in the development of European luxury from the 17th century. Though contemporary western designers, notably Dries Van Noten and Isabel Marant have long been open about their relationships with India, European brands are reluctant to acknowledge the contribution of Indian artisans to their creations. This bias panders to a lingering colonial mindset that European culture and its decorative arts are somehow superior.
However, India’s importance as a sourcing destination for luxury will only continue to grow as many European brands are now working with Indian embroidery ateliers due to an increasing demand for intricate, elaborate or opulent embroidery techniques.
The ability of Indian ateliers to create highly specialised and customised designs in real time is also driving a core part of the embroidery broking businesses. This is especially true for Aditiany, whose New York offices house an archive of thousands of exquisite embroidery samples made over the years. Also, the business model of many embroidery brokers is lucrative. Competition in this sector is becoming fiercer with many new Indian ateliers opening in recent years. Many of these high-end embroidery exporters have showrooms and offices in the US, Italy and France as embroidery on leather is a specialist technique that only Indian artisans have mastered.