Textile revivalist Gaurang Shah, who has been working with traditional weaves to revive various forms of saris belonging to different states, is all set to host an exhibition of Jamdani art through 'Kalpavriksha - Sari Art Show' from December 10 to 12, 2015 in Apparao Galleries.

Taking a cue from the theme Kalpavriksha - Tree of Life, the saris to be showcased in the gallery are the allegorical portrayal of ‘Tree Of Life’ through an opulent collection of Indian textile in the traditional art of weaving Jamdani . Shah through the ‘Tree of Life’ concept hhas worked on some of the exquisite and complex variety of Indian embroideries such as Kantha of West Bengal, Zardosi from Hyderabad, Kasuti of Hubli, Marodi of Rajasthan, Chikankari of Lucknow, Kashidakari of Kashmir, Bandhani from Kutch and Parsi Gara from Mumbai.

The aim behind organising this show is to create awareness among the people about these long lost weaving and embroidery techniques. After launch of his first flagship store in Hyderabad in 2010, Shah’s works have received a celebrity fashion following, who include Vidya Balan, Sonam Kapoor, Kirron Kher, Kajal Aggarwal, Amala Paul, Tapsee Pannu, among others. His other stores are spread across Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Leading online fashion platforms Koovs returned with its second edition of ‘Koovs Goes to College’ campaign that provides one lucky ambassador, a chance to pursue a course at the London College of Fashion. The campaign will enroll students across Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru for the contest. Registrations for the campaign commenced from Monday and will be open till August 15.

The campaign aims to provide students with a platform to showcase their talent and get recognition in the fashion industry. Koovs will handpick about 400 students across the three cities, who will experience the entire process of fashion journey.

Koovs is a premium end fashion e-commerce retailer. The store retails over 200 premium brands and high end clothing, hand bags, shoes, fragrances, fashion accessories and jewelry. Koovs, floated a year ago, will seek further funding in due course to further realize the potential of business and market.

A silver, Lycra gown designed by fashion designer Wendell Rodricks and flaunted by Sony Kaur at the Amazon India Fashion Week recently, has been picked by the museum at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), New York, for the Global Fashion Capitals exhibition. The 30 m gown is adorned with net panels. Director of the museum at FIT, Valerie Steele, and curators Ariele Elia and Elizabeth for the Global Fashion Capitals exhibition that opens in New York on June 3 selected the gown for display during the event. The museum is part of FIT, a State University of New York (SUNY) college of art, design, business, and technology that has been at the helm commerce and creativity for 70 years.

The exhibition traces the fashion trends spotted in the global fashion capitals Milan, London, New York, Tokyo and more, while exploring the factors that enable emerging cities, such as Seoul, Shanghai, Berlin, Istanbul, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, and Stockholm, to rise to global prominence.

Meanwhile Rodricks has been conferred the ‘Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres’ title for his contribution to the fashion industry and for incorporating French charm in his creations. French ambassador to India Francois Richier honoured Rodricks with the medal of the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres) on board the French naval frigate FNS Chevalier Paul in Vasco da Gama Port in Goa.

Wendell Rodricks is known for his ability to blend ancient Indian geometry with Goa’s relaxed style. He got trained in Los Angeles and Paris. After designing for companies like Garden Vareli, cosmetic giant Lakme and diamond corporate DeBeers, designer established his own label in 1990.

Leading fashion house, Manyavar is the latest to be a title sponsor for sporting event. The company has signed an agreement as the title sponsor for the Bangladesh Premier Football League 2014-15 season. The agreement was announced during a press conference held at the BFF House.

The prestigious football event in the country will now be known as Manyavar Bangladesh Premier Football League 2014-15. Manyavar was introduced in Bangladesh through Vintage Denim three years ago. The company expects the football tournament to provide much required boost in the country.

Manyavar from Vedant Fashion is witnessing good growth in the category as ethnic wear has moved beyond weddings and festivals. The company is eyeing to establish a strong EBO network apart from further strengthening its e-commerce presence to reach out to pan-India customers. On the other hand, venturing into women’s ethnic wear is also on the cards. It now plans to open 600 EBOs by 2015-16.

"Made in Bangladesh" explores sweatshops through dance

In a novel way, German choreographer Helena Waldmann explores the subject matter of sweatshops and worker exploitation in the apparel industry through a 70-minute dance performance called "Made in Bangladesh", using the Indian classical dance form of Kathak. The piece even draws parallels to the "sweat shop" that a regular dance studio can be. Co-choreographed by Kolkata-based Kathak expert Vikram Iyengar, the piece has already had 11 performances in Zurich, Germany and Luxembourg and is currently being performed in India.

Waldmann got inspired to choreograph a piece on garment workers when she passed garment factories on a bus ride from Dhaka to Sylhet. Shocked by their run-down appearance, Waldmann vowed to take a look inside soon. She did indeed and visited a few garment factories in Dhaka with the help of Bangladeshi dance pioneer Lubna Marium, who is the director of Shadhona, a dance school and center dedicated to the advancement of Southasian culture in Dhaka.

Bangladesh could be anywhere

From the sense of order and harmony that Waldmann gathered through her visits and working under a strict time schedule and penalising workers if the factory outputs are not met on time, Waldmann had enough material to conceptualize "Made in Bangladesh". The location is not country-specific though; Bangladesh could be anywhere. "It is not just a piece about Bangladesh. It is about us and our unending demands," explains Waldmann.

The choreographer is also quick to emphasize that she is not out to criticize the garment industry. "The girls that I met at the factory are happy working there instead of going back to their villages where they will be controlled by their families and made to do household chores. Here, they feel ‘independent’ even though they have to work 10-14 hours daily for low wages, with hardly any free time," says Waldmann.

"Made in Bangladesh" explores sweatshops through dance

The 12 Bangladeshi dancers performing the piece are experienced Kathak dancers, all members of Shadona. To give them as authentic an experience as possible, Waldmann invited Nazma Akter, an activist tracking the exploitation in the textile industry, who worked with the dancers and the production team. Several meetings were organized between the performers and 12 workers as their mentors, who even invited them to their actual workplace.

Thus, the first part of the piece, which is 35 minutes long, is a representation of the factory floor, with the sewing machines' rhythmic patterns setting the tone, mirrored by the rudimentary foot and handwork of Kathak.

The second part (of 20 minutes duration) draws parallels between the members of the artistic community and the garment factory workers, who are exploited in the name of creativity and performance. "Dancers suffer the same problem. It is about more output, not about money. When I met some dancers, I was shocked to see that they have longer working hours and lower wages. That is especially the case for ballet dancers, when they always need to be disciplined and have to follow instructions," says Waldmann.

The third part, which is 15 minutes long, focuses on "optimizing performance of humans". Rather than pointing fingers or intending to change the face of the garment industry through her production, Waldmann rather hopes to show her audience a mirror of introspection useful for keeping a check on their demands in an aesthetic and artistic way. "We need to stop fulfilling this desire for more output and wants," says Waldmann. And this is where the fashion industry should take note too and reflect on the usefulness and humanity of its current practices and demands.

Bangladesh: garment workers shine in singing competition

Not their skill with needle and thread was called for but their vocal skills: Bangladeshi garment workers once more took on the challenge of finding the greatest voice among them. The heavily televised and popular event, titled “Gorbo” (meaning pride), was organized for the second time by the BGMEA (Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association) exclusively for garment workers.

Apparel worker Faruq Hossain was announced the winner of the 2nd BGMEA Gorbo contest in the grand finale on December 8th, which was held at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka and aired live on TV. He received prize money in the amount of 1 million Bangladeshi Taka (almost 13,000 US dollars). Sohel Arman and Tanvir Ahmed, the first and second runner-up, received 500,000 and 300,000 Bangladeshi Taka, respectively (almost 6,500 and 4,000 US dollars).

The contest was open to all apparel workers employed in garment factories in Dhaka, Savar, Narayanganj, Gazipur or Chittagong that are part of the BGMEA. Participating garment workers took part in a reality show that began months ago and culminated in the grand finale.

The last four contenders battled it out on the 8th of December and had to give chorus and solo musical performances followed by a chorus song with the Top 10 Gorbo 2014 contenders and a special choreography and song performance.

It is refreshing to see this side of an industry that is usually in the news for factory accidents, worker strikes or garment export figures. And given the popularity of singing contests, reality shows and Bollywood in Bangladesh, it seems an innovative approach to motivating garment workers to shine, aspire and last but not least, earn a substantial amount of money. Maybe the western fashion and garment industry should take a cue?

Photo: Faruq Hossain receiving his cheque; BGMEA
Jimmy Choo start conditional trading 0.7 percent over offer price

Shares in Jimmy Choo opened at 141 pence Friday on the London Stock Exchange when conditional trading began, up 0.7 percent from their launch price of 140 pence to 141 pence.

It is noteworthy that the shoemaker to stars’ owner, JAB Luxury, had priced the offering of 25.9 percent of the business at the bottom of the original price range of between 140 and 180 pence a share, valuing the company at 545.6 million pounds.

The firm has sold just under 26 percent of its shares in an initial public offering to raise money for expansion in Asia, reported the BBC. Consequently, Jimmy Choo, 70 percent owned by its founding company JAB Luxury, has been valued at 545.6 million pounds.

"Today's announcement marks an important milestone for Jimmy Choo and recognises not only the appeal of our high quality products but also confidence in our ability to outperform the luxury shoe market," said chief executive Pierre Denis.

Singaporean sovereign fund buys 4.6 percent stake in Jimmy Choo

On the first day of conditional trading, Jimmy Choo attracted Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC to take a 4.6 percent stake. As reported by the ‘Financial Times’ and according to the pricing notification to the London Stock Exchange, GIC bought 18 million shares.

This way, the Singapore-based fund has become the second-biggest shareholder, just second to JAB investment vehicle of the Reimann family, which still holds 70.2 percent. The float leaves the directors own 2 percent, while some other employees, who applied for shares in the offer, were allocated 624,612 shares worth 900,000 pounds, as published by ‘The Guardian’.

JAB will receive 141 million pounds from the offer and other 34,349 pounds will go to the company’s employee benefit trust.

The shoemaker – said to focus on expanding in Asia – will open 10 to 15 new shops a year.

Angela González Rodríguez