The Maharashtrian bridal attire’s yearning for the magnificent Paithani, paved a way for Arati Baandal’s dream to envisage – ‘OnlyPaithani’ which she runs along with her husband. An interview with her was all that was needed to know about her vision and the amazing coordination she shares with her weavers.
It was a big step not only for her, but also for the quality of handloom industry that was waning off with time. It was definitely a tough challenge to work with a fabric that has been passed on as a rich conduit of cultural heredity in Maharashtra.
To bring its importance and value to the market meant devoting complete time to this, and that is what made Arati Baandal quit her engineering career.
It can’t be said that she wants the design to be intact; shifting from the mainstream ideologies, she carved her company through a series of face-lifts on the traditional Paithani silk to match it with the current trends and make it a preferred choice for the modern fashionistas.
A herculean effort had been required initially for her to coordinate with her workers and bring out the fabrics’ patterns, colour and texture. And yet, a lot remained to be done to bring it to the buyers.
Paithani is a traditional weave originally from Maharashtra. From the Satvahana sanctity to the Peshwas pride it has clothed the finest of its regal past. Of all the handlooms being woven in there, Paithani remains the most well-known for its intricate weaves and richness. The art of Paithani weave is almost 2000-year-old and has evolved over a period of time.
Flourishing in the town of Paithan, from where the name also originates, the motifs and designs on Paithanis have been heavily inspired by paintings and sculptures found in the Ajanta and Ellora caves.
With the progress of history, it came under the patronage of the Mughals and the Hyderabadi Royalty. The earliest of the Paithani sarees were woven in the best quality cotton and then progressed on to silk. And this was what the market was missing, originality with maximum drift.
It was a difficult task, for the handloom weavers to shift from the traditional designs to a new and improvised design manual. Although the weaving industry lay in a dubious choice of existence, they chose to stick on to the patterns designated as the original prints and needed a lot of convincing for trying something new.
Once the weavers were convinced, the new design paved the way to a rough beginning as the colours and patterns were resistant to the ideas fed to the weavers. But all for a good hope, it harmonised beautifully in the end.
In spite of all of that, the major challenge lay in conveying the authenticity and quality of their work through an online site as it needed to render much information and absolute guarantee. The target audience also had to be chosen. What now remains is to find out a way to stop other retailers from blatantly plagiarising the exclusive product pictures of the chain.
The Product Range
The products range from sarees to dresses for children, encompassing almost every ethnic wear for men and women including kurtas, dupattas, and dhotis (paithani), all of which are quite in demand. The collection is mesmerising to almost every paithani lover. Even handloom aficionados are in for a surprise as a wide range of handloom fabrics are covered, like Gadwal, Irkal, Ikkat, Benarasi and Maheshwari.
The products explore all levels of pure colours and patterns which entice the minds of every handloom admirer. OnlyPaithani promises quality with a tinge of rich tradition that can be clearly seen in every fabric and dress it sells.
Along with two stores, one each in Bengaluru and Mumbai, Arati plans on launching one more store along with conducting a lot of exhibitions to promote the choice for original Paithani.
Arati Baandal Interview excerpts
For Arati Baandal, her parents whom she idealises have instilled in her the need for being a good human being, with a necessity of following her ethics and always being an independent person.
Nelson Mandela and many other famous personalities who have worked for a cause have also made a big impact on her life. She also admires strong, independent, working women passing through life’s challenges with a smile.
Concluding the interview with a message to the young budding fashion entrepreneurs, she says that one must be updated with the latest fashion trends at the same time stay in touch with one’s cultural and traditional roots.
A willingness to experiment along with a heart to accept failures is also important to stay in the industry.
She adds that it isn’t always necessary to stand out and make one’s mark, what’s important is to never cease learning. Having a ton of determination in her voice, Arati inspires us to strive for a better cause at the same time being independent. A lot many things have to be learnt from her, as she is an epitome of strength all woven together in a smile.