Gaurang Shah – Master Revivalist
From Gujarat to Hyderabad, the journey for Gaurang Shah was a fascinating textile odyssey. As an artistic 8-year-old he visited his father’s Indian Emporium Sari and Blouse Matching Store in the by- lanes of Adids, Hyderabad and fell in love with the art of weaving. Since then Gaurang has been a master revivalist of sari weaves. A self-taught designer – learning in his father’s sari store – it was his love for the Jamdani art of weaving that has turned the “Gaurang” label into a coveted possession.
“My love for saris is the biggest inspiration behind my journey as a textile designer. This coupled with my obsession for vintage arts, crafts, paintings, architecture, historical monuments, nature, animal and weaving technique of Jamdani drives/inspires me every single day.”
He can’t think of anything else he loves more than weaving saris. “I always wanted to pursue textile designing as I grew up in that environment. I never found anything more captivating than textiles.”
For Gaurang, saris are his 24 x 7 passion, “I eat, drink, breathe and speak textile designing. What makes me disheartened is when people pirate my work for which I have put enormous amount of time. I also feel disappointed when people speak less of handlooms and the pain that goes behind creating them especially the weavers who toil day and night to create a masterpiece and the price it carries.”
For his creativity to reach its zenith Gaurang believes in early to bed and very early to rise. “Early, mornings (before sunrises) inspire me and night I like to relax.”
While success has been showered on Gaurang by celebs like Sonam Kapoor, Kirron Kher and Vidhya Balan his ardent admirers; he would love to create saris for Michelle Obama and Rekha.
There were of course high and low points in his career. “The lowest point of my life was during my early days as a textile designer when I began to introduce new fusion and twists in textile designs. I almost gave up when my shelves were overflowing and there were no customers. Today after a decade of hard work and the amount of time and effort I spent in education, creating awareness going to platforms like Lakmé Fashion Week and shows in India and abroad that brought great appreciation for handlooms; I feel immensely satisfied. Now, customers wait for my new collections and my customer portfolio is growing far and wide.”
Hyderabad is his favourite city but he also loves Australia yet his “go to” food is Vada Pav and Indian food.
Weaving one sari for Gaurang is a labour of love, which could be between 3-12 months. Creative blocks do occur. “Whenever my eye gets stuck to a piece of art, nature or architecture, I am inspired to enhance its richness and bring it to life through my textile design technique. Every six months we roll out a collection as every single piece is hand woven.”
Travel and inspiring books, traditional Indian music and long hours just biking or driving his car are Gaurang’s relaxing avenues. Cities, history, culture, art, architecture and marvels are his inspirations, while his fashion icons are Sabyasachi and Rohit Bal.
Gaurang’s work has received accolades at the Berlin Eco Fashion Week, In Dubai Numaish and solo exhibitions in Singapore, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
The future is bright as Gaurang states,” I hope to expand the label GAURANG both in India and International destinations. My vision is to make ‘Sari’ as an iconic fashion piece worldwide. I am on a journey that is just a beginning and never ending. There is so much to explore, get inspired and weave into timeless textiles.”
For Gaurang CSR is very important as he works closely with his weavers. “They motivate me and I motivate them. Years ago, they almost faded away. I began with a pool of 10 weavers, today there are over 600 and growing number of weavers who work with me. Even the “generation next” has begun to believe in the future of looms and they are coming back to their family business of weaving. They are also economically very sound and they feel immensely proud of their work now.”
The future of the sari is very bright. “It has tremendous potential. Women will continue to treasure them as “a must” in their wardrobes. My customer is every woman. It is heartening that today my customers are women of all ages.”
The sari will always be an integral part of Gaurang Shah’s life as he signs off, “My work is my personality. What I create gives me a kick as a textile artist. And, when people admire and drape them it is immensely gratifying.”