Bhubaneswar, March 23: The traditional Odishan weave is more associated with sarees and dress materials for women and has a readymade market, but handloom designer Rajendra Sikandar chose the difficult road for himself.
He started creating textile and designs suited for men. Today, Rajendra Sikandar has made a name for himself in the market for not only making handloom, which are more attuned to men and children but also for creating a new market segment for the sector altogether.
Rajendra Sikandar, a man in demand
Rajendra Sikandar has created a bank of designs that are exclusively for men and children who wish to wear handlooms. Minimalist and contemporary, his designs are much in demand, both among weavers and the wearers.
A resident of Bargarh town, Rajendra wanted to become a painter. He gave up job in advertising management and went on to open a School of Fine Arts (SOFA) in 1992 in his home town and continued pursuing his interest in contemporary painting.
Rajendra Sikandar’s journey
A few years later, Rajendra was organising an exhibition of paintings in Bargarh when he met a higher official of the Textiles department. Impressed with his creations, the officer suggested he apply to SIDAC to learn handloom designing. Rajendra agreed.
He cleared the training course in 2005 and a decade later, joined the Apparel Training & Designing Centre (ATDC) at Bhubaneswar to fine tune his skills.
His stint at ATDC got him to work under the National Handloom Development Project (NHDP) as a designer.
While creating new designs, Rajendra realised that most of the traditional designs cater to women and there were no specific designs for men and children. “I began experimenting with designs for this segment. The concept of creating designs exclusively for men, youths and kids caught the fascination of the unorganised weavers who began rolling out products that were lapped up by customers”, he said.
Spreading his wings
The designer works with 45 weavers in Khairpali, Jamla, Sompia, Bhanupali in Padampur subdivision besides Mahalakanta in Bheden block of Bargarh district who weave his designs onto fabrics.
For children, he makes designs like balloons, kites, cartoons and abstract, while those for men have stripes and checks with minor modification to traditional motifs.
“The usual handloom designs have a lot of patterns and require intricate work besides a lot of tie and dye work. The designs I have developed are very basic and meant for men specifically. These designs require less weaving, they look trendy and are much in demand”, he said. Rajendra is currently developing new designs involving alphabets, images of Lord Buddha and patterns. “Since these designs are easy to incorporate on fabrics, weavers are willing to work on them”, he said.