We take a look at Bunavat's incredible cross-cluster design interventions and digital repository of handloom weaves
Guragaon-based indie label Bunavat aspires to empower weavers in more ways than one; the brand’s founder Avipsha Thakur tells us she works with 30 weaving clusters from 11 states like Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujrat etc. Bunavat already works with 8 clusters in Bengal like Phulia, Begumpur, Bolpur and just added a brand new cluster which specialises in handspun cotton, making way for their newest summer collection With Love, Bengal featuring a range of stunning jamdani weaves.
"We are trying to promote these really soft high count hand-spun cotton saris. They are all Bengal cottons, the colours are very in sync with the season. It is essential for us to keep the craft alive as well as help the weavers; they have to deal with low wages, a number of middlemen and there’s nothing much going back to the community,” Avipsha tells us.
Avipsha, who's originally from Bengal also tells us that Bunavat is a for-profit social enterprise working directly with weavers to make traditional and sustainable weaves, more accessible and relevant to urban women. Bunavat’s developmental programs also ensure a sustained stream of income for the artisans.
But Avipsha and her team has also undertaken the exhaustive job of making people informed of every kind of heritage weave there is; Bunavat’s website, in addition to e-commerce, has two sections - a travelogue called Kathik which tells customers where their sari is sourced from, and a one-of-its-kind digital repository called Tantukatha, which features researched content on the different weaves of India. “If you go to Manipur, you’ll know what weave to look up and collect!” Avipsha remarks.
“Kanjivarams and benarasis have gotten their dues, but there are so many otherweaves which most people don’t know about, be it dhaniakhali taant, khesh, some lesser known Southern weaves. Our own production line called Advika relies on cross-cluster design intervention, so one piece actually travels across the country as it travels to different weavers with specific skill sets,” Avipsha reveals. So, a Bengal woven silk will go to Bihar for some sujni hand embroidery and will then travel to Madhya Pradesh for some gond painting. “One sari stays in weavers’ homes for months and comes out as an exclusive piece of art,” she adds.
The label’s price point also does away with the myth that hand-spun, heritage looms always cost a bomb as Avipsha wants to make the line-up more accessible to youngsters who can’t spend too much. When it comes to her sustainable approach, Avipsha believes in being transparent about the entire process. “The degrees of sustainability varies from cluster to cluster, be it with organic or indigenous weaves. We have no intervention of power looms and machines so the carbon footprint is decidedly lesser; but we make it a point to talk about what is what, so it’s a very clear process,” we are told. The price range of With Love, Bengal starts from Rs 2,800.