Accepted Paper:

Dynamic values in fashion promotion: Kanchipuram silk sari of Tamilnadu, India  


Kala Shreen (Centre for Creativity Heritage and Development)
Shreen Raghavan

Paper short abstract:

The Kanchipuram silk sari is an indigenous textile of Tamilnadu, India. This paper will discuss the dynamic values of this sari such as craft, art, designer wear, heritage piece and glamorous attire generated by fashion stores in the context of its retailing and branding.

Paper long abstract:

The Kanchipuram silk sari is an indigenous textile of India originating in the town of Kanchipuram in the south-eastern state of Tamilnadu. This sari does not have a fixed status or value in its movement across time and space. While tracing the trajectory of this sari, in the context of its retailing and branding, one can observe fluid boundaries between various categories such as craft, art, designer wear, luxury couture, heritage piece and glamorous attire.

The publicity materials generated by the fashion stores create the status of an authentic craft and masterpiece for the Kanchipuram sari by highlighting the artisan's weaving lineage and the dexterity required for the handmade weaving process.

The promotional narratives draw attention to the individually designed and woven saris thereby transforming it into unique, designer wear and its concomitant redefinition as a work of creative art.

In contemporary times, the aesthetics of Kanchipuram sari demonstrates that this textile is not a static continuation of tradition. It is rather dynamic as seen in the various adaptations of traditional elements and the resultant hybridity. This amalgamation of tradition and innovation is a mediated form of heritage in the Tamil fashion world.

The public endorsement and perceived patronage of these saris by film stars featured in commercials transpose their 'reel-life' charisma to the garment, creating an aura of glamour for the sari.

Based on discourse analysis, this paper will thus discuss the dynamic valuation of the Kanchipuram sari as produced by fashion houses in Tamilnadu.

Panel WIM-CHAT05
Fashionable tradition: innovation and continuity in the production and consumption of handmade textiles and crafts