September 24, 2008

Boutique House: Aranya


Aranya is pleased to announce its exciting Eid Collection in a range of natural colours, now in-store! Witness the revival of beautiful Jamdani from museum collections abroad, traditional Kantha saris with patterns derived exclusively from traditional Kanthas in new colour palettes and limited edition hand block printed saris, combined with hand designed aanchals in silk with an extensive range of weaves and prints in silk, tussar, crepe and endi cotton blends, and accessories in new prints, weaves, textures and embroideries. Select your own Eid specials while stock lasts.

The past decade has seen innumerable changes in and around Dhaka city, one of them being the sudden upsurge in the number of boutiques and fashion houses mushrooming in every nook and cranny. While most fashion houses drown in a sea of mediocrity, Aranya is a boutique with a difference. Over the years it has created a niche of its own, and have held the patrons in an enchanted rapture.

Aranya's journey started with the objective to revive the traditional skills of Bangladeshi weavers and artisans that were fizzling out with the passing of time. Through extensive use of indigenous raw materials, Aranya has played a role in creating job opportunities for many weavers who were slowly going out of business. Ruby Ghuznavi, Managing Director of Aranya Crafts Ltd, believes that if these indigenous fabrics and other raw materials can be popularised for extensive use by the masses, the employment sector of our economy can be boosted to a great extent.


In this era and age of synthetic and chemical dyes, Aranya has set itself in an altogether different pedestal, with its contribution to the revival of natural dyes through its indefatigable efforts spanning the past 26 years. With in-depth research, a wide palette of 30 colour-fast natural dyes have already been established, which includes different vibrant shades of blue, green, brown, purple, red and more. Contrary to popular myths that natural dyes are dull and faded, Aranya has made available beautiful traditional attires in lively colours suitable for both day wear and evening wear.

Yet another misconception is that natural dyes are not colourfast; they fade away within a few washes. “Any fabric will lose its brightness if you don't handle it the way it is supposed to be handled,” says Ruby Ghuznavi. “Washing with harsh detergents and exposure to scorching sunshine will take away the vibrancy from any fabric. But if you take proper care in washing the clothes a little delicately, natural dyes are just as colourfast as any chemical dye.”

When it comes to fashion, Aranya prefers sticking to classic styles rather than following the trend, because craft development is their main priority. Restoring the pristine beauty of Bangladeshi craft and designs is given more importance than incorporating modern adaptations. Aranya, interestingly, does not have one individual designer. Rather, their designs are products of teamwork, and can come from anyone in the organization.

Recently, Aranya has revived two Jamdanis, one that had been stored in the Victoria and Albert Museum in the UK and the second one acquired from an ardent Japanese collector. “The process was a long one, but well worth it” Ruby Ghuznavi opines. According to her, Jamdanis are too precious to meddle with, so she prefers keeping the designs intact and does not allow any alterations to the original motifs. However, Kantha saris are sometimes given a slight modification in the designs, but the inspirations are always drawn from old designs. “An old Kantha sari may have beautiful kolka motifs in the border, so we sometimes incorporate the kolka motifs in the aanchal to magnify its beauty.”

With its strong commitment to quality maintenance, Aranya has won the hearts of customers home and abroad. Recently, Aranya is working on some orders placed by the Taj Hotel of India. Aranya is considering this to be a breakthrough since it is already interested in exporting its products to the huge market that exists in India. Aranya Crafts Ltd. also has a training centre where interested learners are trained in the crafts of dyeing and weaving. Eager learners have already come from Bhutan, Pakistan and the UK to receive training, while Aranya has arranged training workshops in countries like Malaysia, Turkey, UK and India. Expatriate Bangladeshis are also major buyers of Aranya's products.

The apprehensions that were raised about commercial viability of natural dyes when Aranya started out have gradually been smoothed out. Aranya is now a recognized brand name and has been lauded for its undiminished determination to the revival and maintenance of Bangladeshi crafts. Ruby Ghuznavi, however, shares some of this appreciation with the media. “The continued support that we have received from the media should definitely be recognized. Media has always played a proactive role in reviving the craft sector of our country, and the assistance has been unprecedented.”

Faced against the continuous evolution of the Dhaka fashion scene and the ever-changing tastes of the customers combined with their hunger for uniqueness and variety, Aranya continues to follow its very own trend and wow its customers with its unique creations. Our country, being a reservoir for some of the finest skilled craftsmen and weavers producing delicate weaves of world class quality, holds vast opportunities to experiment with and create work that could only be called sheer genius; and Aranya is doing just that. It continues to be in a league of its own.

Address:
Aranya, 60 Kemal Attaturk Avenue, Banani.

(By Wasia Mehnaz Minna, Photo Courtesy: Aranya)
Collected From The Daily Star

1 comment:

Anita Anand said...

I visited Aranya in November 2009 and loved it. Unfortunately it was lamst closngtime so I had to rush through the two storyed shop. As a matter of fact the lower floor closed while I was on the upper floor, but they obligingly opened it so I could get some silk kantha and cotton pieces. I got some cotton fabric on the first foor, wonderful bright cat candles, and would have got more had muy suitcase been larger and I had more time. A must visit place. Beautiful, attractive and goood courteous service.