Designer Kedar Maddula looks to give Indian textiles a millennial spin with his handloom streetwear range
Indian handlooms have traditionally always been compartmentalised. The fabrics are often filed away with an ethnic silhouette tag — the saris, kurtas, salwar suits and ornate lehengas — or given a fusion wear spin. And, slow fashion designers, who have contributed to the handloom narrative, are plagued by the perception that the sustainable design aesthetic is anti-fit, unstructured and dull. But disruption is underway. The recently concluded digital edition of the Lakmé Fashion Week saw veteran designers like Mumbai-based Abraham & Thakore use handlooms to create an interesting range of Victorian-style blouses, while Suket Dhir’s Benarasi brocade collection featured structured suit jackets in vibrant shades of turmeric yellow, rani pink and mint green. Closer home, Puducherry designer Kedar Maddula is also working on breaking stereotypes. “The design community is seeing a great revival of indigenous weaves, and it is something that I wanted to work on. As a brand, we had decided that our design sensibilities would not have an ethnic leaning, but be more global in its outlook,” offers the 42-year-old, who runs the label Wunderhaus.
East coast represent
Recognising the need to rebrand Indian textiles, Kedar recently unveiled his label’s handloom streetwear collection, Andro. Constructed using a high-twist yarn woven in pit looms at Manipur, the line consists of silhouettes that include overshirts, cropped jackets, high-waisted shorts and joggers. “I was first introduced to the weave during a visit to Imphal in 2019. The fabric that is woven in these traditional looms has an inherent texture and interesting drape which made it perfect for a streetwear edit,” says the NIFT graduate, who moved to Auroville in 2011, after winding up the operations of his pret label in Hyderabad.
That ’70s show
The collection borrows heavily from the disco era of the ’70s, with the retro aesthetic spotlighted through the use of brightly hued stripes, prints and collar and cuff detailing on the garments. “While I knew I wanted to create a street-wear collection, I was looking for newer iterations of the staple silhouettes. It was around this time that I came across my friend’s vinyl collection and found myself inspired by the album art, the people and the trends from this period.” We learn that Kedar reworked the Indian Safari suit and the signature bell-bottoms. “We’ve restructured the suit to allow better movement and not be as constricted. We have also transposed the Safari collars onto some of our cropped jackets. The pants that we have constructed flare out near the thighs and taper towards the end — it is an inverted version of the bell-bottom pants,” explains the designer. However, a standout from the collection that deserves attention are the handloom cotton, non-knitted T-shirts that could double up as dresses!
How far weave come
With a new collection already in the pipeline, Kedar tells us that the focus of his endeavours are for a better and more millennial representation of Indian textiles — that is not ethnic leaning. “I would like to keep my design sensibilities fluid and let the fabric direct my path. For the coming year, I am looking at working with lesser-known weaves, which do not include Chanderi silks and cottons or Benarasi weave or the Kanjeevaram silks. My sights are on a weave from Chhattisgarh for the next line.”
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