The history of India is rife with tales of magnificent cities. India has always been a country of great kings, amazing food, beautiful locales and last but not the least- birthplace of some amazing fashion trends. Now I know the fashion aspect of India fades in comparison to its global image of being a land of snake charmers and spices, but there is no denying that India has always had a distinct and standout fashion scene. A piece of cloth in India has always been more than just a piece of cloth, literally!
Mahatma Gandhi used the “Khadi” as a symbol of national integration for example. During the 1830’s when British cotton cloth flooded, Indian markets the Indian weavers suffered greatly. Mahatma Gandhi then urged people to boycott British made cloth and use hand spun “Khadi” cloth. Gradually, it became a symbol of nationalism and united millions of Indians. That is how powerful a piece of cloth can be! Besides, our clothes do define who we really are. They project our personality and play an important role in how we are perceived by people.
So if a piece of cloth is really so powerful, Surat is a city which manufactures a lot of power. The textile industry of Surat has stood the test of time, and the credit only goes to the craftsmanship and creativity of the weavers and cloth makers here. The industrial revolution in Britain had a huge impact on the local textile industry. Indians could not compete with the prices of machine made cloth in Britain. But the machines were not able to replicate the saris with intricate borders or cloths with traditional woven patterns. Even today, hand woven patterns are any day better than machine production. So, the ever popular Surat sari has never really been out of fashion.
Known as the “Silk City of India”, Surat has always been known for producing the traditional Indian garment known as the sari. It is the world’s oldest and perhaps the only surviving unstitched garment. The sari is as versatile as a garment can get, worn formally as well as casually by millions of women all over India and the world. It is a perfect example of a garment which is traditional but fits in seamlessly in a modern setting, being a truly evergreen garment.
Surat is famous for its cotton mills too. It is the biggest centre of MMF (man-made fibre) in India. The overall annual turnover is around 5 billion rupees. There are over 800 cloth wholesalers in Surat. It is the largest manufacturer of clothes in India, and Surat dress material can be found in any state of India. It produces 9 million metres of fabric annually, which accounts for 60% of the total polyester cloth production in India. Impressive statistics!
“The Surat Sari Tale” is a reflection of Indian history in many ways. It has had its share of ups and downs but never lost its sense of identity which has undoubtedly been the reason behind its existence for such a long span. So ladies, next time you visit Surat, be ready to be mesmerized by the sheer variety of saris on offer and for my male friends out there-try to avoid taking your woman to Surat unless you don’t mind carrying her shopping bags around for the duration of your holiday!