High quality materials and craftsmanship are the cornerstone of all our brands. At IKKIVI Zine, we spoke with Aarushi Kilawat, Founder and Creative Head of The Loom Art about her deep connections to fabrics, what a revolution means for her, and how she believes we can cooperate in the face of competition.
What does a fashion revolution mean for you and The Loom Art?
A fashion revolution is a larger word with a lot of weight. From when we started to where we are now, we have mellowed down with the word and how we use it – sometimes a revolution doesn’t have to be put out in such big letters. As people, our own journey with a fashion revolution is one where we are trying to understand what it means in which context. But for us at The Loom Art, what a fashion revolution really means is that we need to keep re-doing ourselves and the ideologies we have been working on. What we see is that post the pandemic, people are more aware of slow fashion and slow living, and how we can sustain ourselves with bare necessities. Our challenge now is to see how long we can sustain that lifestyle.
None of us can always do the right thing in every direction, and so with a fashion revolution, it’s important for us to find our own direction. For The Loom Art it’s about people who work with us. I am someone who loves being involved with my people, not just professionally but also emotionally. The whole essence of people who work at the ground level – our artisans – are our backbone. It’s about being able to offer them a livelihood, and encourage their younger generations and communities to pursue careers and be part of this craft.
Have you been working with the same artisans for the last 5 years?
Yes, the team I started with is still with me. We’ve grown ofcourse. And we’ve all been very emotionally involved in the growth of the team. There’s a different high to that altogether – we’ve gone from a team of 3 to 25 now. And all of them know what we (The Loom Art) are about, even though they weren’t all from the same background when we started.
What are the fabrics you work with and why do you choose them?
Until 3 years ago, we primarily used only khadi as it is a fabric that can last a lifetime. Now we’ve expanded our range, but only to include other handwoven fabrics. Along with khadi, we now do a variety of silks and linen. I love to hold and smell the fabric and I love how India is so rich in craft. Each of these fabrics has a tremendous amount of potential to be made into different silhouettes, and with each, the pieces would still be gorgeous.The fall, the texture, everything comes through with these fabrics. I also choose to work with them as the garments made from these fabrics are exceptionally durable and each piece of clothing can be passed on from generation to generation. I like the feeling that it travels a journey and passes on to another person, to have another story.
There is a general notion that sustainable businesses should stay or be small; that when they scale up too much it becomes harder to maintain sustainable practices. Do you think there is some truth to this idea?
Yes, but not completely. You need to be able to follow certain practices and maintain quality over and above everything. You never want to lose our essence due to the pressures of quantity, and if you get too wrapped up with the numbers game, you might lose your ground. The middle ground is always there where you can do your thing, offer it to others at a growing scale domestically and internationally, and still stay sustainable. That middle ground is key.
Customers and consumers were limited to shopping online during the pandemic. We consequently see a lot of competition for attention in the digital space for lower price points from customers over what may be sustainable. Does this ever have an impact on your work?
Yes, sometimes there is a fight for attention. But what we are trying to do is create a conscious community, not force anyone to do something. Keeping up with trends works for some people, and that’s okay. There are people who love what we do at The Loom Art as well as in sustainable fashion, and want to know more. Those are the people we want to work for and are working for. People have lost the idea of touching and feeling and knowing the garment and understanding why it costs what it costs, especially when made ethically. It becomes a challenge and I have also struggled with it. But we have been able to create a valuable section of consumers who know what we are, see our brand value and support our work. For them and for us, it’s not just about sales. It is about having a conversation and narrating your story, as well as building a community through physical interaction. What I think is most important to understand is what you do and why you do it.