Mumbai: In a strong push to locally made artisanal products, Reliance Retail showcased more than 40,000 artisan crafted products from over 50 GI clusters to its customers this festive season. A direct result of its three-year old flagship initiatives – “Indie by AJIO” and “Swadesh” – started to provide avenues for sales and employment to local craftsmen, the programmes now engage with more than 30,000 craftsmen, representing over 600 art forms across a wide spectrum of clothing, textiles, handicrafts and handmade natural goods.
Said Mr. Akhilesh Prasad, President – Reliance Fashion & Lifestyle, “We are delighted that our development efforts over the last few years are now bearing strong results both in our ability to engage with an increasing number of craftsmen as well as our ability to co-create and co-curate products that are being increasingly accepted by today’s consumers.”
Reliance Retail’s success in bringing such a huge repertoire of traditional handcrafted products to its modern retail formats is also an indication of existence of demand for such products, as long as consumers’ expectations of quality, style and convenience of modern retail buying can be met.
Indie by AJIO is an online marketplace for local artisans and handcrafted products and celebrates the brilliant textile and handloom traditions of India with a careful curation and contemporary interpretation. The AJIO platform features this distinctive idiom beautifully in the wide lifestyle products ranging from apparel to home furnishing and accessories such as jewellery and footwear.
The craft repertoire includes Ikat, Shibori, Banarasi, Bagh, Ajrakh to Jamdani, Tangail, Chanderi and many more. The Indie range is sourced from over 50 GI crafts clusters from across India – including Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. The Geographical Indication (GI) tag identifies natural produce, handicrafts or manufactured goods as products native to a territory, region or locality for their unique characteristics by attributing them to their geographical origin.
With a rapidly expanding portfolio, Indie by AJIO helps customers discover the best of Indian fashion and crafts and offers the convenience of delivering them right at customers doorsteps.
“The diversity of sourcing from across the length and breadth of India has resulted not only in the creation of a stunning portfolio that is every handcraft connoisseur’s dream but also in the direct employment for over 30,000 skilled artisans across the country. We will continue to grow this segment with time,” says Mr. Akhilesh Prasad, President – Reliance Fashion & Lifestyle.
Pintoo Lal Chhipa, an artisan who practises natural dye hand block printing in Akola, Udaipur is associated with Reliance Retail for last 4 years and is committed to sustain this Indian traditional craft. Through regular orders from Reliance Retail, he is able to support a group of 30 artisans who work with him and practise different hand block printing processes like, printing, washing, dyeing, drying etc.
Devchand, from a remote village of Bikaner, works as a link between women Reliance and artisans of that region who are extremely talented in hand embroideries. He generates livelihoods for over 25 women in the arid region of Thar and these women look forward to orders from Reliance Retail as they use this additional income for their family.
Swadesh is a special brand of Reliance Retail that brings alive India’s rich handcrafted traditions and offers over 400 types of handmade textiles, handicrafts and agricultural products that are listed with Geographical Indications. Swadesh has an MOU with the Ministry of Textiles which enables sourcing of 100% authentic crafted products, directly from artisan communities. Swadesh brand is available across multiple formats including AJIO and Trends.
Further, as a member of the AIACA (All India Artisans & Craftworkers Welfare Association), all of Swadesh’s products come with a craft mark certification such as Dabu, Chanderi weaving, Single Ikat weaving, Kutch leatherwork, Chikankari embroidery, Kashida kari, Ajrakh, Applique, Bagru block printing, Hand block printing, Block printed kalamkari, Mangalgiri handloom weaving, etc.
Added to this is the membership of DC (Handloom), Govt of India & textile committee that authorises Swadesh to use the “Handloom Mark” on all its handloom products ensuring authenticity and commitment to the products.
“The future of Swadesh is poised at an exciting stage. It is emerging not only as the preferred brand of artisanal and handicraft products for consumers but is also aiding the revival and growth of artisans and weavers across apparel, home textiles, home décor, furniture, accessories, and more”, added Mr. Prasad.