Indian designers take centre stage at IHGF Delhi Fair

IHGF Delhi Fair Autumn has closed its doors after another successful edition showcasing Indian products to buyers from around the world. 

Organised by the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts (EPCH), the fair aims to put Indian designers front and centre and shine a spotlight on the country’s different regions and traditional techniques. 

However, this doesn’t mean traditional products. Instead, both the fair organisers and many exhibitors are eager to use indigenous manufacturing techniques to produce modern designs that will appeal to an international market.

This includes Dhruv Talwar from Iera Living Designs, which showcased its latest fashion and accessories ranges at the fair. The business was started by Talwar’s mother 10 years ago and works with smaller factories to develop its products. 

“They are good factories but slightly smaller than the really big ones that can afford huge marketing budgets and a design team,” he says. “So our design team integrates their techniques into our designs. 

“This means we don’t just sell one type of bag—we coordinate our collections based on the factories’ traditional techniques.”

For the Conscious Collection, for example, Iera worked with artisans in rural areas in India. “They have beautiful techniques which are really old, people have been doing it for centuries, but their designs aren’t contemporary. 

“They are really ethnic designs which don’t sell too well, so our designers work with them to contemporise their techniques and make them more accessible.” 

The modern take on old techniques was also evident on the event runway, with fashion shows displaying dresses, bags, jackets and jewellery that combined Indian textiles with on-trend styles.

Jaipur-based MB exports sent a collection of handcrafted bags down the runway, made using traditional Jaipur techniques that had been updated for the modern market, while Veva’s Fashion used indigenous techniques to create its range of eco-friendly cotton canvas bags screenprinted with on-trend palm tree patterns.

The Minister of Textiles, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, opened the show after a colourful ceremony that included Indian bagpipers and a traditional choir. She spoke about the need to take care of the artisans who had created many of the products on display, as they are the backbone of the Indian handicrafts industry.

This includes a new program implemented by the EPCH and exporter members, which will help fund education of artisans’ children.

The next edition of the IHGF Delhi Fair will be held from 23-27 February 2018.

By Ruth Cooper