Dakshinam Chennai flagship store has a fully functional loom and in-house artisans
When you live in a city like Chennai that shares close proximity to one of the country’s most prized silk weaving centres like Kanchipuram — one cannot help but wonder how many sari stores are one too many? You can hear the amusement in Yogesh Jhamtani’s voice. But the founder of Dakshinam, the city’s newest luxury sari destination indulges us and explains the need for brands like his — that aren’t just boutiques but hubs to help artisans scale up their craft and engage in direct customer feedback. “Think of your grandmother, back in the day, when she would buy her saris directly from the weavers and explain to the artisan what she wanted. With time, this has turned into a designer-client loop, which is very expensive or a retailer-client that is just driven by sales. Dakshinam comes in to bridge this gap. Our aim is to revive the dialogue between the artisan and the customer,” begins the 33-year-old, who launched the craft-based handloom enterprise in his hometown of Kanpur in 2013.
A 3,000 sq ft studio, Dakshinam’s Chennai flagship in Poes Garden feels like an intimate space. The dark mahogany wood shelves and hanging racks lend the store a welcoming air of warmth. While drapes of varying weaves and hues vie for attention as you step in from the foyer, the first thing your eye lands on is the jacquard loom and a spinning wheel mounted with silk yarn. Busy at work on a Rani pink and yellow kanjeevaram embellished with zari buttas is the 45-year-old Murugan from Kanchipuram, who was inducted into the craft when he was 15. This third-generation weaver is among the craftspeople that the brand works with and will be available in-store for interactions with customers, we learn. “Our weavers will be visiting us at the store and our Chennai studio will function as a collaborative centre between me, the consumer and the weaver community,” explains Yogesh, who is a Finance and Economics graduate from The State University of New York, Buffalo.
On display at the store are a range of printed silks, woven tussars from Bhagalpur, matka silks from West Bengal, Benarasi silks and khadas, Pochampali ikats and running fabrics from over 28 weaving communities across the country. “I think my passion for travel and my personal journey with handlooms is depicted through the brand and the clusters that we engage with at the store. It has not been a well-planned out pursuit, but I often find myself deciding on a cluster over the weekend and travelling through that state.”
While the extensive spectrum of handwoven weaves from smaller centres like Sirumugai, Poolampatti and Sathyamangalam in Tamil Nadu, Mubarakpur in UP and Phulia in West Bengal are noteworthy, we particularly love the design interventions that Dakshinam has initiated with weavers from these regions. Look out for our favourites: the purple Kanchi pattu that sports a panoramic scene of the Ganga ghat instead of a traditional annapakshi pattern or even one that borrows Benaras’ Shikargah motifs.
Rs 4,500 onwards. 11 am to 8 pm.