Jitendra Kumar of Loom to Luxury has a story to tell. Born in an industrial area in Bihar, he was an avid movie goer in his teenage years and by his own admission always attracted to the glitz and glamour of pop culture and Bollywood. When the only career options available at the time were being either a doctor, engineer, politician or treading the dangerous path of crime as he so candidly put it, he dreamt of being a model. Driven by his Bollywood dreams he pursued a degree in textile design which later took him to Benaras to learn the indigenous crafts.
He recalled visiting Benaras in 2005. A young student who wished to learn traditional weaving from the masters of the trade as an attempt to develop a deeper understanding of handlooms to aid his formal education. What he also recalled was sharp disappointment due to the lull in the crafts sector as China had recently introduced cheaper, synthetic materials on the market that were all the rage. The reality was grimmer than expected. Weavers were forced to leave their jobs and take up alternative careers such as rickshaw pulling, selling goods on the streets amongst other things. What was peculiar as he narrated this to me was their ownership towards their skill. They refused to teach him any aspect of it despite his earnest pleas. A chance encounter with a young man the same age group as him at the tea stall he frequented marked the beginning of Kumar’s journey towards Loom to Luxury. The young man agreed to teach him the complexities of the jacquard loom in exchange for some money. A fair enough barter in Kumar’s perspective. Later he went on to purchase an old jacquard machine, worked his way around it and experimented with different ideas.
Loom To Luxury
Post his graduation and a few Lakme Fashion Week shows, dissatisfaction started to seep into Kumar’s life. His creative faculties depended on embroidery and motifs, the designer in him wasn’t able to find an outlet for what he wanted to do. One fine day he packed up his bags and decided to start working with the Varanasi Weaver’s Foundation. He was quick to realise that the charitable model wasn’t a sustainable one. One thing led to another and hence Loom to Luxury was born not only as a business model but as an initiative that acted “as a bridge between the designer and the artisan”. Kumar’s two-fold vision of protecting the artisan along with the craft seemed to be fairly ambitious but Loom to Luxury’s initial projects included creating fabric for brands such as Maiyet, The Row amongst others, lending them a heady kickstart
What They Do and What’s Next….
They attempt to control quality by organising the haywire supply chains; time management is another agenda that the initiative constantly works with. They strive towards utmost efficiency keeping in mind the dynamism of the fashion world with the rapidly changing seasons. Loom to Luxury further aims to professionalise the skill of the artisans. According to Kumar, the dyer is as important in the supply chain as the master karigar. His aim is simple: to get all the work done under one roof. They recently inaugurated a facility centre in collaboration with Nest. The next big challenge for Loom to Luxury is to scout for younger artisans as Kumar seems to think they’re dwindling in numbers. The man is optimistic that the industry has the power to sustain itself for years to come. Loom to Luxury has big dreams as they plan on imparting consumer education through guided tours at the facility and also providing knowledge to the artisans by setting up design centres. In the New Year they’re going to Paris to showcase new collections for noted labels such as Jean Paul Gaultier, Miu Miu and others.
Text Unnati Saini