Here’s how Abira Pathak is working with different weaving clusters and making lungis gender-fluid
IN AN attempt to connect with her own community in Kolkata, Abira Pathak, 27, is promoting lungis, with her brand Thatch.The apparel, however isn’t new, with men and women from several communities across India adapting the lungi in their own way. She currently lives in Mumbai and for Thatch, she sources fabric from Chennai and Kolkata. “The fabrics come from Erode also, especially our cottons, and there are a lot of weaving clusters there who have been doing this for a very long time — both with handlooms and powerlooms.”
The Kolkata girl works with artisans from Orissa who specialise in Pattachitra, which is a traditional artform that involves geometrical, floral and tribal patterns. Katha is another popular handicraft work from Bengal that she is integrating into lungis. “The manufacturing is divided between Kolkata and Chennai. And the idea is to work with Bangladeshi and Burmese weavers as well,” says Abira, who has a day job and has previously worked with Facebook. Here, she networked with several designers and fashion houses and realised that she loved working with different fabrics. As a child, Abira always saw her grandfather wearing lungis and wanted to wear them. “It was never my grandmother’s saris that I gravitated towards. It was always the lungis he used to wear.”
After much research, she put out three pieces on Instagram on May 10. Within 48 hours, they were all sold. She then put another three and they were sold too within five minutes. “The response was incredible. And in ten days, I had sold ten lungis,” says an ecstatic Abira. When she started wearing them to work in Mumbai, she realised that the humble lungi came with a lot of misconceptions attached to it. The most glaring one being that people equated it to just South India, or a lower income group of people. “They just weren’t able to comprehend the lungi in an urban setting,” shares Abira.
She is now arranging for more pieces to come in since prints like Batik and solid colours are doing really well. She has her eyes on a prized Egyptian cotton roll from Bengal, and Faneks from Manipur, which is a traditional attire for the women there, which has silk embroidered on the body. “ I am also working on denim lungis!”
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