Over the years, I noticed that the artistry and craftsmanship of the tangail saris that I was buying was declining. It was becoming harder and harder to find saris that I loved. The fabric was coarser, the colour combinations and patterns were less refined, and the borders were losing the suppleness that made them flow in my garments.
The cause was simple but tragic! Traditional tangail weaving is extremely labour intensive, with the patterns literally being hand-embroidered into the cloth during the process of weaving. It can take months to hand-loom a single sari of the most intricate kind. The use of super-fine hand-spun and hand-dyed cotton yarn certainly does not help contain costs! With cheap imported fabrics taking over the market, the distribution channel was forced to compete by lowering the quality of the saris that they sourced.
The solution was presented by my client and friend, Brigitte, an expert on Indian crafts. Go to the source! She directed me to the Tangail weaving communities of West Bengal, and I made my first trip there around 2005.
Prema F. Isaac