India holds a wealth of varied craft heritage dotted across different parts of the country. From handicrafts, to handmade fabrics to embroidery each region tells a unique story. Shrujan Trust over the last 49 years has nurtured this treasure trove tucked away in unique district in Gujarat – Kutch. Rich with a craft culture that dates back over 500 years, the region is home to some of the most vibrant and diverse embroideries discovered in India and now revered throughout the world.
The latest collection of this intimate and intricate work of art will be showcased in exquisite breathtaking designs from 19th to 23rd December ‘18 at the Prince of Wales Museum in Mumbai.Traditional bridal wear and modern khadi silhouettes will take centre stage at this showing. The viewing will also offer a variety of stoles, accessories, tops and cholis, all hand embroidered and designed to tell a story that's both beautiful and breathtaking. The collection will be designed by Ms Sudha Patel who also presented Shrujan at The Lakme Fashion Week 2017 and upcoming designer and spokesperson of Shrujan, Ami Shroff. Both of them will be present at Prince of Wales as well to walk patrons through the design story that Shrujan is unfurling this year. Challenged by limitations of living in extremely remote parts of India, the youth of rural Kutch, despite the desire to achieve new heights in their life, have an arduous road ahead of them.
Pursuing a higher education and professional careers is usually not possible as they have little or no formal education. The Shrujan Trust is a not-for-profit, non-governmental organization based in Bhuj, Kutch has been working in this region for over 49 years to change this reality. With its work in the region, Shrujan has over the years become a pioneer and leader in craft revival, craft management, craft promotion and craft entrepreneurship, focused especially on empowering the women in this region. This not for profit organisation has successfully demonstrated that traditional and personal craft can be revived and transformed into a craft enterprise that enables rural women kaarigars to earn a dignified and sustainable livelihood. Shrujan’s primary success has been with the craft of hand embroidery. It has also helped revitalise other crafts such as block printing and weaving. This has earned Shrujan the respect of entire craft communities. The most telling articulation of this is the oft-repeated request from craft elders that Shrujan must do for all the crafts what it has done for embroidery.
Ami Shroff, the voice and strength behind this 49 year old organisation, which was first started by her mother Chanda Shroff with only 30 women in her fold. This organization today has empowered over 6000 women from various communities in the Kutch region and has now launched the “Living and Learning Design Centre” in Bhuj, an ambitious 8 acre campus which houses India’s largest crafts museum.
Says Shroff, "Shrujan’s journey started out as an ingenious idea that my mother, the late Chandaben Shroff, had when she was visiting the Kutch region on a drought relief mission in 1969. She noticed, that while the local women refused handouts from the mission they were eager to work to earn a living. The other thing she noticed was the exquisitely embroidered garments each of these women wore. From there, her idea of buying garments and threads for the women to create 30 contemporary sarees that she could market in urban areas began and slowly transformed into a life-changing organization."
Having empowered over 30,000 women in its 49 years of existence, Shrujan today has become globally synonymous with richly embroidered contemporary garments that find admirers in handicraft enthusiasts, designers from all over the world and even seasoned embroidery connoisseurs. Currently, Shrujan works with over 3000 women from 12 different communities coming from over 120 villages, combining centuries-old embroideries with modern silhouettes while honoring the craft tradition the emerges from the Kutch region.
After the tremendous interest the Shrujan range generated at The Lakme Fashion Week 2017, we are coming together again for our biggest annual showcase collection at the Prince of Wales Museum, held in Mumbai for a week. Here we will be showcasing an exclusive collection of traditional bridal wear as well as modern khadi silhouettes to display the versatility of handicraft. Whether traditional ethnic or chic, the richness of these hand embroidered pieces make a fashion statement that's both beautiful and breathtaking. The viewing will also offer a variety of stoles, accessories, tops and cholis.
LLDC aims at being a melting pot of creativity and collaboration for design and craft work in the years to come, not only in India but globally too. More importantly, the LLDC promises to preserve the pride and heritage of the Kutch natives effectively while giving them a global platform. It promises to safe keep their craft and embroidery tradition and also nurture it.