Kerala handloom goes international

Kerala handloom goes international

With the aim of elevating Kerala handloom to a global brand, a first of its kind clothing line crafted entirely from handloom and specializing in ethnic wear for women will be launched here on December 21.
New brand Hornbill to be launched on December 21
as part of Government of Kerala’s ‘Operation Phoenix’

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 19: With the aim of elevating Kerala handloom to a global brand, a first of its kind clothing line crafted entirely from handloom and specializing in ethnic wear for women will be launched here on December 21.

Hornbill, the new brand, is an outcome of the much-acclaimed joint venture ‘Operation Phoenix’ between The People’s Company, a social entrepreneurship based start-up in Thiruvanathapuram and the Kerala government, as part of an agenda to revive the state’s ailing handloom sector where more than 50,000 traditional weavers are struggling to survive.

Mr. P.H. Kurien, Principal Secretary, Industries and IT, will launch Hornbill’s first limited edition collection at Czarina designer boutique opposite General Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram at 11 a.m on Saturday, December 21.

“Hornbill’s first limited edition is represented by 20 exquisite designs by leading designers. Initially comprising of 60 garments, the clothing line is defined by intricate hand embroideries and blocks, to glistening bead works, and tailored to perfection,” said Ashik Salim, CEO of The People’s Company.

A startup firm focusing on social innovation, The People’s Company is the brainchild of six young people - all graduates from the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram (CET).

Hornbill brings the fabrics woven from the highest quality silk and cotton from the looms of Mayyil in Kannur and Balaramapuram in Thiruvananthapuram. The Hornbill collection also features cotton silk, a fabric developed on a market scale for the first time by Kerala Handlooms.

“The government has high hopes for the Hornbill brand. This limited edition exclusive handloom collection would be top notch both in its make and quality,” said Mr Kurien. “It’s time we have a competent textile brand for ourselves from Kerala. With the energy of these proactive youngsters coming together with the rich tradition of our handloom, Hornbill will become yet another milestone for Kerala to boast about in the future.”

The brand has also managed to muster the active support of youth joining hands for a social cause. The branding, logo and the promotion of Hornbill were all undertaken by pro-active student groups across the Kerala.

WebopX, a start-up from CET, created the vibrant graphic designs while the artwork and structure for Hornbill’s visual merchandising came from fourth year architecture students of CET.

“The launch of Hornbill will be a huge step towards bringing back the production revolution Kerala once missed. Out of Kerala’s Rs 6, 000 crore textile business, only 8 per cent is indigenous. Ours is a horribly consumer state. Bringing handloom and textile production back is one big leap to reverse the consumer trend”, said Mr Raqib Rasheed, Chairman of The People’s Company.

As part of the Operation Phoenix, The People’s Company will integrate all weavers’ societies into a single production system and create linkage between new generation fashion designers passing out of national institutes, and traditional weavers, with the larger goal of breathing fresh life into the industry.

The young entrepreneurs had focused their attention towards the rejuvenation of the weavers under the mentorship of then Additional Chief Secretary (Industries and Commerce) Mr. V Somasundaran, and Mr. Kurien.

According to the plan, all products will be commissioned as per approved designs and market viability. Besides redoing and renovating the showrooms, the programme will also try to expand the market for handloom products. A key element of the project is to create a platform to connect the existing infrastructure and industry with the vast number of new generation fashion designing and arts graduates who are also looking for jobs.