The sari remains an integral part of the Indian fashion story, a garment that continues to be reimagined to meet the changing consumer demands and tastes.
The biggest challenge the industry faced till a few years ago was to make the sari more approachable, and not restrict to only special occasions, and attract younger shoppers.
Today, the sari appeals to a young officegoer as much as to her grandmother. For, it can be modern and traditional, modest and bold, and transcend from nine to dine within minutes.
Novel, ready-to-wear blouses, advent of innovative draping techniques and inventive styling has added to the popularity of saris among the newer generations. Designer and corporate brands are also introducing fresh takes on pre-draped saris to keep younger consumers excited.
Taking inspiration from ever-evolving consumer preferences, brands are now offering ethnic weaves in a modern design language. Many leading brands are working with weaver communities in Kanchipuram, Varanasi, Maheshwar, Champa, and Fulia, among others, with an aim to modernise techniques while preserving the art of handweaving for the future.
The creative collaboration of designers with these weaving clusters has resulted in unique motifs and an eclectic colour palette. Among the many design inspirations are botanicals and the seven chakras. Leading industry players are putting in a great amount of effort in “revibing” the sari by helping consumers employ the six yards to redefine culture in their own distinctive ways.
To keep the sari more relevant, brands continue to lay immense emphasis on the lightness of fabrics and the variability in texture to facilitate drapability. Besides this, the introduction of treasured weaving techniques such as Banarasi and Kanjeevaram on organza and organza tissue has assured that the sanctity of the craft is maintained while re-engineering the fabric to make it an attractive choice for millennials and post-millennials.
The arrival of organised players with creative designers and artist collaborations in this realm has led to more contemporisation.
An influx of stylists with renewed ideas on fashioning a sari in the modern context has made it more desirable than ever before. What's more, the revival of trust on authenticity of fabric and workmanship with “weavershalas”, consumer workshops in association with the Central Silk Board to build awareness and presenting consumers with authenticity certificate for silk and zari, makes the sari not just relevant but a veritable celebration of the spirit and pride of India in the 21st century.
Anindita Sardar, head (design and curation), Taneira (Tata Group).