Chinar Farooqui ’s creations are known for the textiles they use and the stories they say. Founded in 2009, she uses the hand-woven fabric for clothes in such a way that the textile design becomes apparent and it also becomes the most important design feature of that garment. Talking to this correspondent, Farooqui speaks about her brand, inspirations and the intricacies that go behind her craft.
Why the name Injiri? What does it signify?
Injiri signifies trade textiles. Indian textiles have travelled the world and have been a part of trade since many centuries. In Africa a particular kind of woven checkered textile imported from the Coromandel Coast was called "injiri" meaning "real India". It signified it’s origin to be Indian.
This significance of an Indian textile being a prized possession in another part of the world is what I found beautiful.
What does Injiri represent to you?
Injiri represent the best in Indian textiles to me. Indian living traditions of hand-woven textiles are an asset to us and we must celebrate the techniques and preserve the highly skilled crafts. While being drawn to simplicity, the brand works with highly skilled craftspeople to ensure that the product that travels to various parts of the world becomes a conversation piece about Indian textiles traditions still being alive.
What do you want to portray through Injiri?
For me Injiri is an expression of beauty that lies in classic textile designs of the country. To achieve beauty one does not necessarily have to something “different" but reinterpret the classic form of textiles which have been lost along the way in the last few decades (due to industrialization and popular culture).
Tell us a bit about your inspirations behind your work. Is it true you spend hours in the museum for inspiration?
Yes by saying "hours in the museum" what it means is looking at the "old" for inspiration. It is true that in my student days I have spent many days studying old textiles in Victoria and Albert study rooms, Crafts Museum Delhi, Birmingham museum UK, and Calico museum Ahmedabad. Other than spending time in museums I always am looking at the old. Before starting off on a textile technique I always look at the oldest references of the same technique. It is not the object which is old but the beauty or "rasa" that is generated by the whole act of hand-making a textile. It used to be a slow process, and therefore allowed one to work at leisure and smallest details were treated with immense involvement and spontaneity at the same time.
Furthermore, spending hours with old pieces allows me to understand the beauty in them and I probably strive to achieve the same nostalgia in my designs -- the nostalgia of classicism, of being able to stop and think, of being able to love the textile for what it is rather than embellishing it with anything superficial.
It is said that there is a story behind each of your dress. Please elucidate.
Sometimes it is the story of the textile itself which is the story behind the dress. I like to believe that Injiri garments tell the journey of the textile they are made of. The process of dress making also is enhanced using details of stitching thread, and use of several panels.
What kind of textile do you focus on?
The textiles I focus on are usually woven, especially the ones that allow patterns and textures to be a part of the weaving rather than embellishment. I work with jamdanis, continuous extra weft techniques, plain weaves and textures. One of my main focuses is the bhujodi weaving which is continuous extra weft technique. The patterns formed are due to the weaving technique and not embroidered, but sometimes inlayed.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion is a word I have not understood in its totality or rather have been kind of reluctant to think about. Since the industry of fashion is loud I do not relate to it much. For me I do not think what Injiri does has anything to do with ongoing trends or forecasts. I have never looked at a trends magazine or inspirational magazine. That way Injiri is quite different from mainstream fashion.
Fashion for me personally means expression of one's idea of beauty. The way we dress is how we want to communicate an idea of what we feel is beautiful on a human body.
In a more traditional context, fashion is community specific where the entire community believes in what is beautiful and also has a code of common dressing, which I personally think is highly admirable.
And when we actually see how people carry themselves it actually makes me think that there is a reason classics outlive fashion and always will. The word fashion implies ever-changing with time, and I do not believe in that at all. On the contrary I believe in not so much change.
What are the colours and motifs you best like and why?
I am drawn to folk imagery and motifs; one can find many such imagery in my hand embroideries. The simplicity of a rebari embroidery and bandhani motifs draws me to it.
I love Indigos, blacks, tone on tones, and play of colors on kora and whites.
Where according to you is the Indian textile industry positioned in the global market now?
I think that Indian textile industry has a very important part to play in the global market. It is about which segment of the market we are talking about. The mass market has its pros and cons. However, the issue that bothers me is the industrial simulations of local techniques which are slowly killing the handloom market.
It is a handful number of people who are able to support the hand-looms and I do understand why it is difficult to work with expensive techniques.
In today’s time there is a general impression of Indian textiles being cheap, I find that very disturbing. This is probably because most textile industry is geared to serving the big mass market. But we must make an attempt to work with highly skilled crafts as well.
Tell us a bit about your brand vision?
I would like to continue my search for beauty in textiles and dress. I started working for the love of textile design, and now I would like to stretch myself further.
What is your future vision?
I would love to be able to create more beautiful textiles for the global market. I hope to work with many more techniques and be able to work closely with many more artisans and crafts....