Bengaluru: The 60s and 70s triggered a revolution when women joined the workforce in large numbers. They needed practical, lighter and easy-to-drape sarees that also celebrated their cultural identity and gender roles. Vimor, which completes 45 years of its weaving experience, came about around this time and supported that movement.
During those decades, it was popularly said that a woman’s marriage and future is secured if she passed B.Ed. It was also the time when the government employed women to address women’s issues. Ms Jyothsna Belliappa, a faculty of Women’s Studies at APU, said, “I remember my grandfather telling us that teaching, banking and government jobs were the safest for women. Those were also the professions that demanded sarees.”
Ms Vipra Muddayya, Trustee, Vimor, said her grandmother, the Late Chimmy Nanjappa, founder of Vimor, would voluntarily and secretly sell sarees on discounts to women she identified as teachers, bankers or government officials. As these women were also the earning members of the family and their job demanded sarees, this was an act to support them.
Mrs Gandhi, the style icon: “Mrs Indira Gandhi was the style icon of our times,” said Ms Savitha Suri, founder of Anvaya. “During our school days, we were told to follow Mrs. Gandhi’s style. The highlight was to wear the saree the way she did, walk the way she did and imitate her body language and confidence,” she said.
Ms Tara Rao, executive director, Our Ground Works, said, “Mrs Indira Gandhi was the woman who was seen only in sarees whichever part of the world she was in.” Ms Muddayya said, “Here was a woman in power who wore sarees that a common woman could identify with. Her sarees were all cottons. Even today we have women who want to own sarees of that kind.”
Recasting sarees: Ms Muddayya said, “Vimor started the journey of weaving sarees for working women. Sarees that were lightweight and that did not need starching, maintaining etc, were the elements of comfort that we worked with. Sarees with colour blocking, without zari and simpler pallus were introduced. At the same time, we retained the traditional designs.”
Ms Muddayya said, “There are younger women professionals who want to come back to sarees as it projects maturity. People remember you in a saree and you make an impression.” Ms Pavithra Muddayya, co-founder, Vimor, said, “Youngsters’ creativity in wearing a saree has always inspired me as a designer. They don’t want to be trapped in a particular tradition and want to asserting their individuality. This challenges the designer. Everybody is becoming bold and want to wear their identity.”...