Published: 06th July 2017
Here's why choosing Textile Design over Fashion Technology could land you a job easier and preserve our traditional textiles
With an increasing number of students pushing for the glamour of a degree in Fashion Tech, industry insiders tell us that the less-glam Textile Design course is better for the long run
Though India boasts of some of the most exquisite textile designs and fabrics, it has become common knowledge that our traditional handloom and designs are on a gradual decline. Weavers don’t want their children to take up their low-paying jobs and are being forced to choose cheaper material as they are out of options. Every year, we churn out hundreds of fashion designing graduates but funnily enough, they aren’t the ones who are bringing about a revival of the Indian fabric and design. It is the lesser known textile designers who are the ones leading the revival revolution.
Fashion designing institutes and courses have mushroomed across the country in the last decade and yet textile design barely finds a mention when discussing careers in clothing or apparel design. For fashion illiterates, textile design is essentially the process of creating designs for woven, knitted or printed fabric or surface ornamented fabric. Textile designers are involved with the production of these designs, which are used, sometimes repetitively, in clothing and interior decor.
Synthetics are flooding our markets. Recently in Kancheepuram, I bought four silk sarees, three of which I found later to be polyester. Despite being so educated about textiles, I was cheated. There is an urgent need to get weavers to adapt to new techniques and not be forced to use fake material. The revival of Benarasi sarees is a classic example of successfully adapting to urban trends and promotions
Deepali Singhee, Principal, JD Birla Institute of Design
“In many fashion designing institutes, textile design is sometimes taught as an elective. That changed in our college in 2009 when we realised that textile design in itself is so vast and many fashion designers fail to understand that not knowing textile design is detrimental to their work and that there is a wider scope for jobs in the textile design industry,” says Deepali Singhee, Principal, JD Birla Institute. The institute offers a BSc in Textile Designing where, “About 40 per cent of the syllabus is devoted to textile fabric, dyeing, printing, and the science behind the fabric-making technology. Thirty per cent is about garment construction, pattern-making, and cutting and stitching, while the remaining 30 per cent deals with fashion designing, textile design and also the history of textiles from all over the world,” she elaborates, adding that textile companies face a deficit of employees because no one realises how lucrative the career option can be.
Karthikeyan Balaraman, Associate Professor, Textile Design department, NIFT says that the career options are limited even in fashion designing, “You can either work for an apparel company, become a costume designer or start a boutique. Out of 100 students who take up fashion designing, two will actually launch a brand, but textile design students can get into home furnishing, printing, hand block designing, and so on,” he explains.
Balaraman equates fashion designing to painting and textile design to the canvas, “You can’t paint without a canvas. Without knowing the fabric or the texture of the canvas, what’s the use of painting, or in this context, designing. Many students regret not doing textile design after they’ve graduated from fashion designing. It makes more sense to do a Bachelor’s in Textile Design and then a Master’s in Fashion Design. The roots of fashion designing are in textile design,” he stresses.
Fab India has done a good job of penetrating Indian markets; more textile companies should do the same. The prices though are exorbitant. A way to bring down the prices is to come up with techniques to revive these handlooms
Textile designers could decide the future of traditional textile production and designs in India, art forms that the country is quickly losing the grip of, believes Singhee. “Our traditional artisans are still stuck to old forms of production as they are not open to new semi-automated processes. Due to the lack of funds, they also use cheaper material like polyester and they are also losing sight of changing trends in the country. Textile design graduates could change that and many already have,” she adds. Stating an example of the changing trend, she points out that though many women today don’t choose to wear sarees, the same fabric and designs can be used for dresses. Traditional weavers and artisans should adapt to semi-automated production, better training and urban trends to bring about this revolution.
Top Institutes for Textile Designing In India:
- National Institute of Design, Delhi- http://www.nid.edu/
- National Institute of Fashion Technology, Chennai- http://www.nift.ac.
- J.D Birla Institue, Kolkata- http://www.
- Pearl Academy- https://pearlacademy.
- Inter National Institute of Fashion Design, Chandigarh- http://www.nifd.net/
- IILM School of Design, Gurgaon - http://sod.iilm.edu/course/
- Apeejay Institute of Design, Delhi- http://www.apeejay.edu/