It's our last full day in Hyderabad, and we began the day with a visit to Pochampally Looms, a handloom park. This facility is located deep within rural Hyderabad, so we got a little taste of the Indian farming lifestyle on the way!
Pochampally Looms is a government-funded cotton and silk fabric production facility. All of the products are made by skilled weavers. Pochampally purchases cotton and silk yarn from Indian producers and does the rest of the fabric-making process in their giant facility. We had the opportunity to see how yarn transforms into colorful patterned textiles.
Many of the workers at Pochampally know how to complete the entire process of dyeing, finishing, and weaving the yarn to create fabrics. Prior to joining Pochampally, many of these workers weaved in their own homes. However, being a part of a large production park is typically a favorable option because workers can use their time more efficiently and create a larger output. They also have access to more machinery, which is often too expensive for these workers to purchase on their own.
The part of the process that I found to be most interesting was the dyeing! After the yarns are prepared, they are brought to be tied in order to be dyed. Tying requires workers to tie black strips on to the fabric in an organized manner. The black ties create tension with the yarns so when the yarns are immersed in colored dye, the black-tied sections remain white. In order to add multiple colors to a fabric, this process must be repeated several times, and it is important to begin dyeing with the lightest color. At Pochampally, they use three dye colors (red, blue, and yellow) to create many vibrant patterns.
After the yarn is tied, it is moved to the dyeing room. In addition to the dyeing done by the workers, cabinet dyeing machines are also used at Pochampally . I've learned a lot about fabric dyeing in my Fiber Science classes, so it was amazing to actually see this process in person!
Pochampally has a room dedicated to weaving silk. This room, similar to the entire facility, is airy, well lit, and open. It was a huge contrast from yesterday's factory visit, which consisted of cramped, hot, and dingy rooms. The lifestyle of the loom workers is much different than the factory workers because they are treated with a lot more respect and dignity. There are restrooms present at the facility, there's a large kitchen to be used by workers, and there are no supervisors constantly watching over the employees. The weavers work at their own pace in a calm, social environment. It's hard to imagine what it is really like being a textile worker in a developing nation, however from the perspective of an onlooker, it seems like working in this factory is a much better way of life.
Next, we saw the looms in action! The final dyed yarn is brought to looms, where it becomes finished fabric. The women who work at these looms are very skilled, and they do the weaving so quickly!
We ended our tour of Pochampally with a visit to their store. Here, they had a wide selection of cotton and silk products that are made on site! I purchased a couple of scarves and a shirt. It was so nice to be able to purchase a product after seeing the craftsmanship and effort that these workers put into each fabric. Plus, they were so nice to us, so it felt good giving back and supporting their company! In addition to their on-site store, their products are frequently brought to the city of Hyderabad to be sold to locals.
Before heading back to the hotel, we snapped a quick pic of our gorgeous henna tattoos that we got at our Welcome Dinner last evening.
We rushed back to the hotel for a quick bite, and then we set out for our next activity: a visit to Indian designer Tarun Tahiliani's Hyderabad location. Tarun Tahiliani is a high-end RTW and couture designer who began his collection in Hyderabad. He is now mainly based out of Delhi, and his company employs about 550 artisans who skillfully create his incredible pieces by hand. Tahiliani is known for taking traditional Indian styles and silhouettes and adding a Western twist. Photos were not allowed while we toured, however I highly recommend Google searching his designs. They are absolutely STUNNING. Many of the pieces are studded with crystals, and Tahiliani only uses Swarovski (which explains the high prices!). He often uses multiple materials, such as chiffon, neoprene, velvet, and silk, all in one garment! In the 1990s, Tahiliani pioneered digital printing on his textiles, and while many of his colorful and unique patterns are copied by fast-fashion companies, he remains known as one of the first designers to employ this technique. The store we visited was originally a house, and when Tahiliani purchased it, he kept the original architecture intact, so it has a very elegant and homey ambiance. Tahiliani cites architecture as the inspiration for much of his work, and we were shown one neoprene digitally printed blouse that had a pattern motif based on an Islamic mosque. Another dress displayed an embroidered pattern that was inspired by a carpet! Many of Tahiliani's traditional garments, such as his sarees and tunics, show popular western styles like ombré dyeing and color blocking.
I was so impressed not only by Tahiliani's garments but by the clear inspiration and craftsmanship that goes into each and every piece. I decided to purchase an exquisite beige and red tunic, and I've never been more sure of any purchase in my life! This tunic is truly one-of-a-kind, and I can't wait to eventually wear it and share it with you!
We were shown around the store by a wonderful woman named Nishrin Pishori. She was a designer who was discovered by Tahiliani at a young age, and she started with the company when there were only four other employees. She was incredibly informative, and told us all about the beautiful inspiration that lies behind each of Tahiliani's pieces. Before heading out of the store, we took a group photo with Nishrin!
Since it is our last day in Hyderabad, we decided to explore the city and do some more shopping! Walking around Hyderabad is an experience of its own. Since there are absolutely no driving laws and no stoplights, crossing the street is like playing a game of Frogger. And being a group of eight clearly-out-of-place Americans certainly did not help! Even though it was hard for us to not draw attention as we walked around the dark and crowded streets, we had a great time looking through some of the local clothing stores. I purchased a gorgeous white, black, and gold salwar, a traditional Indian garment!
Hyderabad has been absolutely incredible, and staying in this city these past few days has been an eye-opening experience. I'm looking forward to flying to Bangalore tomorrow to continue the journey!
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