One of the most exciting things about ethnic fashion is that it is a seemingly never-ending source of beautiful fabrics, designs, textiles and works. Anyone seeking vibrancy and variations will not be disappointed when exploring the world of various ethnic garments such as sarees, salwar kameez and lehenga cholis in India. A major source of such exciting clothing items are the villages of India. The structure of the medieval Indian economy encouraged the growth of specialized handicraft industries where the production of one particular fabric, garment or embroidery technique was restricted to one village. A majority of the artisans from that village would be skilled in producing that particular handicraft. This trend continues till today and many of these village communities have taken to patenting their craft. While the mainstream sarees like Banarasi and Kanjivaram have become famous throughout India, there are other beautiful types that are slowly but steadily starting to gain a loyal customer base in India and abroad.
These are named after the city of Kota in Rajasthan, known for its flourishing textile industry. Kota sarees are also produced in other villages across north India but Kota retains the distinction of being the original and largest producer of these fine garments. Kota sarees are made of a unique cotton and silk blended textile which is woven with delicate square patterns called khat. They are known to be extremely light weight and comfortable, combining the softness of cotton with the luster of silk. They are often decorated with beautiful dyed and printed designs of ethnic motifs and nature inspired designs.
This is yet another blended sari made with both cotton and silk. Here, cotton is used to create the main fabric while the borders are made of silk and attached at a later stage. Gadwal sarees originated in the small town of Gadwal in Andhra Pradesh, which is till today the main producer of this garment. They are distinguished by their large and ornate borders and pallus made of silk, which often come decorated with artistic designs and detailed drawings. Gadwal sarees display patterns deeply influenced by temple architecture and religious symbols, which are often created using shining gold thread. Today they are produced using machines and less expensive substitutes (gold coated threads instead of pure gold) which make them more affordable and therefore more accessible to a larger customer base.
These gorgeous Bengali garments are hand-woven using fine silks and are known for their rich and attractive pallus, which come decorated with exquisite and artistic depictions of mythological scenes and motifs. Baluchari sarees were at first only produced for rich zamindars, who were the only customers who could afford these opulent and exclusive saris. They were named after the small village of Baluchar in West Bengal but are now produced across east India. Painstakingly conceptualized and exquisitely crafted, Baluchari sarees are unique in their singular focus on detailed, intricate depictions of scenes from the Hindu epics.