Indigenous cloth weavers and their products need constant promotion for them to survive the market. In order to promote loin loom and weaving in the Northeast, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh is to host its second edition of Northeast India Fashion Week (NEIFW) from 19 August to 21 August, 2016. Yana Ngoba Chakpu, chief operating officer, NEIFW, announced about the upcoming show at the recent press conference held on 14 July in New Delhi. Bollywood actor Adil Hussain, the brand ambassador of NEIFW and designers Arita Kashyap from Assam, Rohila Engtipi representing the karbi weavers, Koombang-The Storm representing Mishing weavers and Rupert Lynrha from Meghalaya were also present at the occasion. Opang Jamir, popularly known as Mr Earth India 2011 and Mr India International 2012, was the showstopper at the launch fashion show.

Speaking about the importance of the dying loin loom tradition, Yana Ngoba Chakpu, says, “Being one of the senior designers from Northeast, I wanted to take this loin loom tradition to national and international platforms. There have been hundreds of events and lots of events going on which are funded by the Ministry but the events organised by them are not giving the right platform to the designers.

At the event she also raised concern about not getting enough buyers. “We do not get enough buyers and our weavers are not recognized in these fashion shows. So, there is point of such events then. Central and the state governments are trying to fund the revival but the benefits are not reaching the designers and weavers. I have realised these are just sort of entertainment shows. These end-up becoming more of skin-show events, earning North East a bad name. Not a single dress showcased at such events gets sold.”

Though she is happy that buyers from abroad have expressed their interest in the clothing made by North East tribes. “I believe we should not do the fashion shows just to entertain people. It is not an entertaining business. If these events are not changing the mindset of the people about us, then I feel these events are not meant for anything. Buyers from across UK, US, Africa and other countries have expressed immense interest in the North East tribal weaves and handicrafts. However, what get represented from India internationally are the mainland Indian designs only. A lot many buyers abroad, and even in India, still do not know of our existence even. Our traditional art and culture – handloom, clothes etc., is very different from the mainland Indian style,” adds Chakpu.

“I believe we should not have fashion shows just to entertain people. It is not entertainment business. If these events are not changing the mindset of the people about us, then I feel these events are not meant for anything. Buyers from across the UK, US, Africa and other countries have expressed immense interest in Northeastern tribal weaves and handicrafts.”

Chakpu aims to bridge this very divide soon by bringing forward designers, weavers and handicraft artisans of North East who have been working diligently to promote the North East style. People from various backgrounds like journalists, actors, models, performing artists and NGOs and senior designers from Delhi, Bangalore, London, New York, Washington, Paris and Philippines have been trying to globalize the handloom and handicraft of the North East and thereby encourage the weavers and artisans to revive the dying art forms of the region. This will also ensure a constant livelihood for the rural women and men folk as well.

“I have been showcasing loin loom weaving for the past 10 years nationally and for the past three years internationally and have received very encouraging response. In fact, I was nominated as the best creative designer in London, UK. This reinforced my resolve to promote the loin loom and the weavers as much as I possibly can and this is when the idea of organizing North East India Fashion Week (NEIFW) was born,” says Chakpu.

In the same context, designer from Assam, Arita Kashyap says, “This is a raw beauty of fashion world. And as being a designer, I know it has the potential to come to the international level. And moreover, this is an age old talent which exists in a part of India which should be promoted. Designers from various part of India and abroad use them. All it needs wider audience and mass coverage so that it can generate revenue for the weavers. This weaving tradition should be familiar to all parts of the world. I expect lot of buyers this time from this event.”

Talking about the Northeast designs in Bollywood, Adil Hussain opines that there is no such thing called fashion in Bollywood. “We should not expect from Bollywood. They have their own agenda. Some designers may bring some motifs from here but it entirely depends on the designer. Bollywood is an industry and does not have any particular philosophy. They only have profit-driven philosophy. And when it comes to Northeast, it has been ignored since the time of independence. The kind of fabrics and designs which we use here in Northeast can come up with beautiful and variety of designs internationally. So is the case with the other regions. So, I think such platforms should be promoted as we don’t have enough people who are responsible to encourage such efforts.”

NEIFW will probably be the first ever fashion show in the history of Indian and world fashion wherein weavers shall be at the forefront, sharing the stage with the designers. No fashion week or show has ever attempted to do this. In September this year, a NEIFW Collection Boutique will also be setup in London wherein the best of designs, weaves and handicrafts shall be retailed to international buyers. NEIFW will provide designers and weavers of the region an opportunity to retail their merchandise online to the entire world and participate in international fashion weeks of London, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles and many such places.

In this second edition, a total of 25 designers not only from North East but also from Bihar and Rajasthan will be participating in the show.

“Through NEIFW we are trying to blend the new age technology and age old craftsmanship,” concludes Chakpu.


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