‘A Glorious Dichotomy’
Zardozi, over a period of time, has become a strong & peculiar ingredient of Lakme Fashion Week with its origin still in the narrow streets & dungeon ‘karkhanas’ with people giving their whole life working for it.
One side of the coin is bright & glorious with dollars & pounds getting invested in it, inflated prices with different experimental art forms. But on the unturned flip side of the coin is still the same as it was there as its inception in the 17th century.
With gold (‘Zar’) in its name and craft, the people in the background should be equally acknowledged and heard. Indian fashion designers are concentrating more on westernization of Indian artwork by using machine embroideries on the name of ‘zardozi’ which dilutes the hard work and craftsmanship of the real handicraft artists.
For a long-term persistence of any legendary art forms, it’s very important to sustain the originality and individuality. Amalgamation doesn’t create a problem unless the dominant art form doesn’t losses its indigenous features & characteristics. ‘Zardozi’ being handcrafted art form it always has a personalized touch and an individual’s hours & hours of hard work & dedication. Westernization of Indian original crafts has somewhere diminished the long driven ancestral influences.
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‘Computerized machine Zardozi embroidery industry ’
‘Zardozi’ market saw the strongest set back when the embroidery market got flooded by the Surat/ computerized artwork that was not only economically cheap but was also easily available. Machine work slashed the prices of embroidered fabrics. Lack of knowledge and awareness of the real art form created the drift between the suppliers and users that was easily occupied by the machine, low priced fabric manufacturers.
Due to practical craft constraints & mandatory manufacturing time of real ‘Zardozi’, it became almost impossible for the small-scale craftsmen to cope with the influx of machine era of embroidery. This made the workers shift to other economically viable career options.
‘Economic reforms setback’
Indian MSME & handicraft sectors are majorly run on cash transactions and relationship building. This structure got its major crash in the demonetization economic reform that not only hampered the transactional habit of vendors and service providers but also ceased the business for the major bracket of time. Due to this currency flip, the MSME sector saw its major revenue drop, which made the ‘Zardozi’ workers look for alternative revenue earning strategies.
GST influx also created a dent in the small scale & handicraft industries due to the sudden complexity of digitization and tax changes. GST on textile being 12% has decreased the margin of craftsmen and thus it acted as a threshold for them to break and get merged into other more formal sectors.
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DAMAGE CONTROL MEASURES
Collaboration with designers in Zardozi
Life finds a way and the same happened with the ‘Zardozi’ embroiderers. They started supplying their work to the local designers who can utilize their art form into a more profitable venture. Aman Mathur being one of the Lucknow based designer brand, which made this art craft its forte and gave recognition and better working conditions to the background people involved in the craft.
Western material usage
The fashion world is full of imitations in order to make expensive things affordable for lower-income people. ‘Zardozi’ term breaks down to ‘zar’ meaning gold and ‘dosi’ meaning embroidery. This terminology came from its original craft type that used gold beads and silver threads for making the entire embroidered piece. Expensive metal usage became almost extinct due to lack of availability of resources. This has again gone down due to the availability of plastic or polyester imitation of heavy metals. This includes plastic beads, zari work, zarkan, sequin etc, which comes with a lower price and higher visual appeal. The only thing that gets a negative impact is the durability of the work done, but customer’s choices have changed majorly with the advent of westernization.
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