Shazia Saleem’s Fresh Look to Brocade

Shazia Saleem specializes in luxurious hand woven textiles

Shazia Saleem specializes in luxurious hand woven textiles

She takes a traditional, heavy, rich brocade and converts it into a dress that can be worn by a woman in New York or London. Shazia Saleem, a London based fashion designer with a high fashion label of the same name, has roots reaching to Varanasi, a city in India where thousands of weavers weave rich traditions on looms everyday.

Shazia Saleem’s handwoven dresses and scarves are testimony to the fact that India’s handlooms and brocades can be adapted beautifully to create clothing that attracts shoppers around the world. With Shazia’s exclusive designs, East meets West and sustainability meets style.

And while this is being done, it is the community of weavers (struggling hard to get themselves employed) that gets a ray of hope.  Every garment these weavers produce is unique and carries a sense of pride. With Shazia Saleem, this pride finds a place in conscious buyers’ wardrobes.

Shazia in a conversation with Make Cotton Sustainable talks about giving opulent brocade a fresher look:

What was your inspiration behind the idea of contemporising Benarasi brocades and hand wovens?

Brocade is beautiful in its opulence but it can also be intimidating and too heavy for cocktail parties. So, the idea was to give this old-fashioned textile a new fresher look that would appeal to a younger, more fashion-conscious market, thereby helping to secure handloom as a textile and skilled technique for weavers.

Was it easy to find weavers?

No, it was quite a challenge and I had to travel a great deal, often alone as I’m not from India, but I have a wonderful team of weavers now who have a great attitude and are masters at their craft.

 How is your experience of working with the weavers like? Do they need to be trained in terms of designs?

 They didn’t need training as such but just advice on design or color modifications and to not add starch at the finishing stage in the case of cottons or Tussars.

 Do customers buy Shazia Saleem for its designs or sustainability?

I think both, one supports the other.  Design is the most important consideration but the sustainability adds value to the story of a dress.


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