Representative Image | Photo: Instagram
Each festival has a definite set of motifs which herald its arrival, and outfits have assumed a key position among them in the neoteric time. Textiles, especially hand-woven with elegant ivory, cream and golden shades symbolise Onam for all around the globe. Within this, the invasion of exotic trends and the revival of the antique styles by maintaining its lineage to the traditional handloom fabric with gold-threaded borders have launched a revolution in the realm of textiles.
A culture of customising outfits through boutiques and wearing the exact replica of the desired costume has dominated the textile market of Kerala in the recent past. By this, what one chooses to wear is not ‘twice away from reality'. The cyclical nature of fashion by resuscitating the past could be perceived in the Onam trends of this year too. However, the innovation is to bring the touch of modernity or a consort between traditional and western tinges in it. For instance, the ‘rouka’ and ‘mundu’ worn by the Malayali women centuries back have been reintroduced as crop tops and skirts in brocade silk or kasavu fabric, said Aadhranair Punathil, chief designer at Sahasra Bridal Studio.
The combination of Arabic Kaftan and salwar has recently set a novel trend in the textile market of the state. A voguish trend of Kaftan was born this Onam when it was merged with the traditional Kerala attire by weaving it out of Kasavu and ivory-coloured fabric. The Kasavu kaftan has achieved a certain fan base, especially among the youngsters here.
A North Indian flair 'lehenga' turned out to be a centrepiece among the traditional attires of Kerala. Skirts of brocade silk bordered with shimmering laces accompanied by a hand-worked crop top is a much-preferred turnout for brides or anyone who intends to flaunt at festivals. The North Indian organza fabric has also found its way into the wardrobes of Malayalis, during this Onam season.
Even in between the flooding of new trends, off-white sarees with golden threads, known as ‘Kerala saree’ or ‘veshti’ and ‘mundu’ hold a vital stance in the Kerala festivals. Although, the designs and patterns along with certain colours that obtrude in each year would be different, and the designers’ challenge is to set a new style for every season. Actress and designer Poornima Indrajith’s ‘Praanah’ has introduced ‘Nellu, Seeds of Style’ for this Onam with hand-embroidered motifs which bestow a three-dimensional effect to the designs. The series is being lauded for drifting away from the regular mural designs, usually incorporated in the Kasavu sarees.
Still, the trend set by Kasavu sarees imprinted with mural art would never lose its charm in the festivals of Keralites. The support of professional mural artists is sought for painting such onerous designs in the fabric. In Kerala, only fabric paints are used to paint over the clothes unlike Kalamkari textiles, which are prepared with natural colours by following intrinsic procedures, said mural artist Dileep Balan. The block-printed or hand-printed Kalamkari cotton fabric stitched along with the Kasavu in Kurtis, skirts and blouses; and also on the saree borders are all-time favourite garments of customary costume lovers.
The quest to bring round antique trends, which were set aside terming 'old-fashioned' is evident regarding jewellery as well. The neck pieces such as 'Palakka', 'Nagapadam', 'Mulla Mottu', 'Pulinakham' and 'Manga Mala' have regained the preference of Malayalis. The newly arrived on the list are choker sets and the jewellery collection in temple designs. The stylish chokers in temple designs render a tone of modernity to the entire outfit, without losing the traditional spirit. Temple designs, in which mostly the form of Hindu goddesses carved are the most favoured collection among all kinds of jewellery.
The marketing sector has also broken with past methods in the current time. Conventional advertisements gradually vanish by offering more opportunities to the vendor via social media. It has been facilitated by the shift of purchasing from direct to online mode. According to Aadhra, striking photo shoots are necessary to reach out to the customers through Instagram reels that guarantee millions of viewers much more easily. Though sumptuous, such photo shoots could be done in collaboration with photographic enterprises, she said.
Holding fashion shows and fashion weeks, which once sounded unfamiliar to Kerala, have achieved popularity and reformed conventional marketing methods in the state. The dynamic market evolving with the aid of social media is sure to offer an uphill battle for normal textile stores.