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New handloom fashion line ‘Hornbill’ launched

Hornbill_Logo (Dec,2013): Hornbill, a first-of-its-kind clothing line aimed at rebranding Kerala handloom globally

and supporting the state’s struggling weaver craftsmen community, was launched as part of a joint initiative by the Government of Kerala and social entrepreneurship startup The People’s Company.

The first limited edition of Hornbill, consisting of 20 exquisite designs by leading designers and a collection of 60 garments, was launched by Mr. P.H. Kurien, Principal Secretary, Industries and IT, at the Czarina designer boutique in the state capital.

The People’s Company, which has been set up by six young people who graduated from the College of Engineering, Thiruvananthapuram (CET) this year, has partnered the Government of Kerala for a project called ‘Operation Phoenix’ to help revive the state’s ailing handloom sector where more than 50,000 traditional weavers are struggling to survive.

“The response from the industry to the project so far has been very positive,” said Mr Kurien. “The youth who are behind this are setting an example with their spirit of entrepreneurship and their social commitment. I’m sure Hornbill will go on to become an international brand.”

“We have got tremendous encouragement and support for this venture from the state government,” said Mr Raqib Rasheed, Chairman of The People’s Company. He said the driving force of Hornbill and Operation Phoenix are a group of youth who chose a social cause over well-paid corporate jobs.

The first edition of the Horn bill line consists of ethnic women’s wear designed with intricate hand embroideries and block prints, glistening bead works, and tailored to perfection. Hornbill brings the fabrics woven from the highest quality silk and cotton from the looms of Mayyil in Kannur and Balaramapuram in Thiruvananthapuram.  The Hornbill collection also features cotton silk, a fabric developed on a market scale for the first time by Kerala Handlooms.

A number of student groups across the state have assisted the project, including the Hornbill branding, logo design and its promotion. WebopX, a start-up from CET, created the vibrant graphic designs while the artwork and structure for Hornbill’s visual merchandising came from fourth year architecture students of CET.

As part of the Operation Phoenix, The People’s Company will integrate all weavers’ societies into a single production system and create linkage between new generation fashion designers passing out of national institutes, and traditional weavers, with the larger goal of breathing fresh life into the industry.

The young entrepreneurs had focused their attention towards the rejuvenation of the weavers under the mentorship of then Additional Chief Secretary (Industries and Commerce) Mr. V Somasundaran, and Mr. Kurien.

According to the plan, all products will be commissioned as per approved designs and market viability. Besides redoing and renovating the showrooms, the programme will also try to expand the market for handloom products. A key element of the project is to create a platform to connect the existing infrastructure and industry with the vast number of new generation fashion designing and arts graduates who are also looking for jobs.


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