Sanjay Garg celebrates a decade in fashion, shares thoughts on handloom

Sanjay Garg, who founded and runs the label Raw Mango, has completed a decade in the Indian fashion industry and, as a designer that has always used handloom textiles, has offered a different perspective on the industry’s recent developments.

Sanjay Garg believes handloom should be kept a luxury - Raw Mango- Facebook

Sanjay Garg is known for his modern interpretations of handloom including Banarasi, Chanderi, and Mashru textiles. The designer was recently included in an exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art but, speaking to The Indian Express, Garg said that he “[derives] no pleasure from a foreign validation” and prefers to show his collections in Lucknow, shying away from the Bollywood glamour of India’s main fashion weeks.

The Indian Government has recently championed handloom textiles, especially Khadi which has been given GST exemption, as part of their “Make in India” campaign. Many designers such as Ritu Beri, Anita Dongre, and Ritu Kumar have all agreed that bringing handloom textiles to a wider audience is a good thing. However, Garg has shared a different view point.

“I have said this time and again- handloom is a luxury,” said Garg to The Indian Express. “Why do we talk about making it affordable? There is a bit of elitism within the handloom-wearing community, which is dominated by people from a certain educational background and class. All the people who are working for the weavers- be it NGOs or designers- have a saviour complex, but they want the children of the weavers to become weavers. I want to sell handloom because it’s doing well, it’s thriving. I want to promote fair practices and pay my weavers a viable remuneration, so that the more I sell, the more profits they make. We have to approach it like a business- make it sustainable by itself. Why should we be asking for government help?”

Garg certainly has a different opinion on how handloom should be approached and, while his priorities are understandably different to those of the government, it does raise the point of whether the ways in which the industry is currently being boosted will be beneficial for it in the long term. The hope is that the industry will benefit from government support and go on to sustain itself. Only time, and the actions of the Indian consumer, will tell.

Sanjay Garg founded Raw Mango a decade ago and the brand currently employs 450 craftsmen. Hailing from a small village in Rajasthan, Garg has shown collections at Lakmé Fashion Week and Lucknow as well as internationally including his recent showcase in Hong Kong on February 3 and 4. 

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