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Talking Point | November 2017

Future of handlooms is bright: A. Arya of Fabriclore

Founded in March 2016, Fabriclore is a Jaipur-based organisation, with a penchant for telling vivid stories through their collaboration with indigenous designers. A brainchild of three friends – Sandeep, Anupam and Vijay, Fabriclore sets out for a tough task to constantly inspire creative people to achieve stand-out boho and fusion designs in both, clothing and home furnishing. Analysing the fashion trajectory for the past 10 years, the founders huddled in a cafe, and tried to discover the connecting chord between various phases, right from “Darzi era” to the advent of e-commerce. Post a great deal of brainstorming, they realised that fabric is the only thing which is persistently common in all phases. Understanding this, they rolled out the orb of yarn, hemming the foundation of Fabriclore. Anupam Arya, Director at Fabriclore, speaks on the inspiration behind setting up Fabriclore and its achievements over the years.

What was the inspiration for your start-up and how did the Fabriclore set-up was founded?

The idea behind Fabriclore came from broadly three things – in depth understanding of the textile industry, analysing the various players in the supply chain and considering different phases of the fashion trajectory. Right from the Darzi Era, which was taken over by the retail stitched garments and further with the influx of e-commerce, it was the readymade garment sector that completely took over the conventional designing trends.

With the advent of customisation and fusion era, we have now entered an age where couturiers are extensively experimenting with boho fusion designs.

We realised fabric is one thing that has been common in all the phases and we thought “Why not just fabrics?”

With this thought, we have rolled out the orb of Fabriclore in March 2016. From choosing the right colour palette, to designing a descriptive logo, from creating an easily navigable website to building our presence on various social media platforms our strategy since day one has been, to create a strong brand identity, communicate our brand’s ethos to our audience, i.e., narrating the lore of Indian handlooms and various crafts available across India.

Now, that Fabriclore has completed over a year, and what are its achievements?

Finding right, bright and stable team to manage various aspects of the business in very initial phases and in turn good reception at consumer end, have been our biggest success. Growing a bootstrapped business without a loan or funding for more than 1.5 years, from 100 orders a month to 4,000 orders a month does mark a great success story in its own, we totally cherish this the most.

Design is the backbone of your concept, and how is this being carried out as a continuous process and what is the design set-up?

Fabriclore defines itself as “A Design & Tech Driven Online Fabric Brand”, and therefore both technology and design are central to our core philosophies. It gets additional fillip from the founding team who consider these two the most important pillars of modern day businesses. Visual detailing of the product, creative imagery, slicker brand identity, packaging all contribute tremendously in an online business, and that’s what made us setup our own in-house photography studio and team. One of the reasons of our success has been our ability to creatively visualise our product, both pictorially and narratively.

On part of product, we initially relied on artisan’s vision of design which was normally restricted to traditional motifs and weaving patterns. Gradually we started playing with dyeing and educating artisans to rather modern hand blocks designs, dying quality and application on modern contemporary fabrics. For this, we have set up our own textile design team who work like warp and weft with these artisans and come up with numerous design crossovers like Mughal Prints on Chanderi, Indigo on Chanderi, Shibori on Rayon, Tie & Dye on Kota Doria, Ajrak on Modal Silk to name a few.

Going forward we will have even tighter control on our design and production process that will help us position even more distinctively with proprietary designs and quality. To stay ahead of the trends, we have started engaging with independent designers who are collaborating with us on exclusive designs.

How do you market Fabriclore and have you received response from other countries?

Being one of the largest online curators of Indian Handloom and Contemporary Fabrics, we feel that communicating the theme of our brand to the audience is critical and hence we pay great attention to design and communication. We have an in-house digital marketing team, social media experts and content creators.

We pay utmost attention to graphic and content that goes out on our social media platforms. High-quality photography and application-based content enables us to creatively communicate the attributes of each collection launched on a daily-basis. In addition to this, we often engage with fashion influencers and enthusiasts who can communicate the theme of our brand and kindle the inner designer amongst their target readers and viewers.

Moreover, we engage with our customers from time-to-time and keep them informed about innovative offers. For instance, we are celebrating the Fab Festive Month at the moment, wherein we are offering beautiful handcrafted goodies on purchase of certain amount of fabrics. Apart from this, we also have a dedicated team who engage with designers across India and work on custom-made designs and collections. We apparently have received response from select European, Asian countries apart from USA and Canada.

At the moment, we are fulfilling these orders on ad-hoc basis whereas automated international order placement right through the website is in works and we certainly anticipate demand from these regions.

How do you tackle the challenges of sourcing fabrics? And what are the various products that you offer?

We have a dedicated sourcing team who along with our in-house textile designers travel across various parts of India, curating different types of crafts and materials. Fabric curation involves frequent travelling of the team which is no doubt a toilsome activity and brings a lot of exertion. However, we make sure that our team work in tandem with the suppliers across India and focus on building strong relationships, which enable us to rely on the same suppliers for the next purchase order; hence, we save a lot of time on the hunting and mapping process.

Moreover, so far Fabriclore has associated with more than 15 artisan communities across India and planning to increase the number to 25 by the end of 2018.

Our team is continuously working towards building close knit bonds with these artisans, which is in turn going to help us in smoothening our sourcing activities.

We offer 19 kinds of materials ranging from cotton, cotton, silk, khadi, georgette, poplin to chiffon, raw silk, modal silk, chanderi, satin, georgette, chiffon and more; 23 kinds of crafts including Ajrak, Kalamkari, Shibori, Indigo, Ikat, Leheriya, Bandhani, Mangalgiri, Indigo, Dabu, Bagh to name a few. Newest of the varieties from across India are updated every day and widest of the art and craft forms are being added on a real-time basis. Our fabrics are predominantly suitable for apparel stitching and customisation.

What do you think are the advantages of online platform for fabrics? Do you see competition hotting up and how will Fabriclore overcome this?

For the Indian economy, the textile industry accounts for 20 per cent of its industrial production employing over 15 million people and about 30 per cent of India’s export basket consists of textiles and garments. Moreover, the textile industry is growing at a CAGR of 8.7 per cent which, pretty much explains that fabric industry has great scope in the years ahead. However, if we talk about the online handloom fabric industry specifically, we believe it has just begun to get the kind of attention it deserves. We certainly have a long way to go.

Some of the factors that would drive its growth are:

  • Increased awareness and brand building
  • Innovation in design
  • Standardisation of quality

Our competition mainly comes from stand-alone suppliers at the regional level and also a few modern retailers who also happen to be doing fabrics. But it’s a highly-fragmented legacy market and has long way to go before entering into the modern era.

Indian handloom is coming of age, and the ethnic trends and styles are spreading. How do you see the future of this phenomenon?

Handloom in India enjoys a rich cultural heritage, each State has its own unique identity and crafts, which is until date, celebrated amongst the artisan communities. kalamkari of Andhra Pradesh, chanderi of Madhya Pradesh, bandhani of Gujarat, bhagalpur of Bihar, to name a few, are all crafts with unique intricacies and skills being produced by artisans for generations.

With the textile industry growing at a CAGR of 8.7 per cent and the Ministry of textiles ardently working towards reviving Indian handlooms, the future of Indian handlooms is bright and blooming. Moreover, the youth has warmly started accepting ethnic trends and styles. They are making smarter choices by taking conscious steps towards sustainable fashion, following designer trends that predominantly revolve around fusing Indian crafts with contemporary designs.

What are your views on fusion of western and Indian styles, which recently is gaining momentum?

With events like Textiles India 2017 “Symphony of Weaves” and Lakme Fashion Week 2017, where Indian handlooms are regaining the love and attention they deserve; designers are extensively experimenting with Indian weaves and are closely working with the artisans, hence reinforcing the knots between farm and fashion.

With the fashion industry rapidly moving towards the customisation era, fusing western cuts and flares with Indian styles are undoubtedly becoming the trend-setters. For instance, banarasi brocade and silk have always been limited to sarees and suits, but designers are now coming up with Banarasi bridal concept gowns, trench coats, peplum tops and cigarette pants, that not only look chic, but also present a subtle touch of Indian culture woven in classic zari and bridal weaves. Not only festive and bridal wear, even our daily wear outfits are adapting to the fusion and boho trends! Therefore, experimenting with Indian crafts and modern-day designs is undoubtedly here to stay for the next few years.

What are the future plans and strategies of Fabriclore?

By pushing the design abilities of the talented craftsmen, we are looking forward to joining hands with them for a reciprocating opportunity in the long run.

We are not just giving them a platform to showcase their talent but also encouraging them to tap their creative potential and challenge their traditional heritage for reinvention. Our big picture is to narrate the lore of fabrics across the world markets. We want to become a pioneer in the reinvention of handloom crafts. Collaboration with independent designers is certainly going to be big. We would like to become their enabler.

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