Kolkata, Aug 17 (IANS) Reputed for its exquisite collection of heritage textiles, the 60-year-old Tantuja - handloom weavers' co-operative under the West Bengal government - will from September make its unique products available to global shoppers via its maiden e-commerce venture.
This would be the West Bengal government's first online textile venture. And, in sync with sartorial trends, designers for the enterprise have aesthetically incorporated a dash of neon into the indigenous fabrics crafted in Bengal's remote and ancient textile clusters, including the districts of Nadia (cotton from Shantipur, Phulia) and Murshidabad (a sericulture hub).
"The e-service will be a first for us. Initially we will begin with 100-150 items, mainly sarees. We are tying-up with an e-marketing firm and the expected date of launch is September 1," P.K. Bhattacharya, chief marketing officer, West Bengal State Handloom Weavers' Co-operative Society ltd., told IANS at the Tantuja Bhavan here.
Connoisseurs will have access to the famed Shantpuri-Phulia cotton sarees and Jamdani and Tangail six yard wonders in Murshidabad silk and cotton, among a plethora of others. The centuries-old art of weaving Jamdani has been declared by Unesco as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
"Over the years, we have built up a brand name and we understand what people want. They cherish the high standards and traditional motifs seen in our items which are directly sourced from the weavers. It helps them to sustain their craft and business," Bhattacharya explained. There are 101 outlets across India.
In addition to the earth-toned and pastel sarees adorned with customary Kolki motif (an S-shaped design) so synonymous with Bengal and inspirations from nature (foliage, climbers and the banyan tree), the online shop will also include a few selections by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
"We have retained the motifs and nature-inspired designs throughout as instructed by the chief minister. There aren't much of geometric patterns. To add a bit of modernism, we have added some subtle hints of neon colours in the Murshidabad silk sarees. These are targeted at the new generation," in-house designer Anindita told IANS.
She said a whole new range of pure silk kurtis will also be made available online. The officials refused to release any images prior to the launch.
So far in the last two years, Tantuja's products like stoles, scarves and kitchen linen have bagged export orders from European countries like Germany and France. The US also is on the list of clients, while Israel and Finland are the next in line.
Domestially, it has been supplying weaves to Kerala for the last three years. It will soon also tap into the Assam and Andhra Pradesh markets.
"From the US and Germany we have received orders of $6,000. With the online service, we will increase our sale and local craftsmen whose products sell the most will profit well," project officer Shankar Das told IANS.
(Sahana Ghosh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)