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Handcrafted Tapestries of WNW Needlework

The world has seen a lot of different kinds of needlework and weaving throughout decades, but has anyone ever come close to the craftsmanship that India has seen with respect to its indigenous textiles and methods of embroidery? We believe this to be quite a rhetoric question in all honesty. Hence, we were determined to understand the world of warp and weft through the eyes of someone who kind of named their whole organization with the exact same name.

WNW is a brand that is known for their consistent, beautiful needlework throughout a range of lehengas, and menswear in the world of couture. We sat down with the director, the mentor, the founder, and the brain behind the brand, Harsh Vardhan Bhotika, to decipher the true meaning of the company and the existence of the work they do as well as the motivation behind such pieces.

How many years has WNW been doing embroidery for? What does embroidery mean to you and why did you have such a prioritized approach to it?

We have grown up with embroidery ever since our teens. It is truly the one thing that defines us. The only such thing we not only love, but it is the passion, pride and core of our existence. Love is always a discovery, never a strategy! You don't love someone because you had created a strategy before finding love. For us, embroidery is such true love. We discovered her(embroidery) and fell in love with he, unconditionally and eternally. Such kind of love, that we want to duly serve her for a lifetime.

Which is the kind of needlework WNW is known for and what are some future ventures you’d like to investigate?

Primarily our sense of embroidery has been shaped by the influence we received from the clusters/settlements in and around Kolkata. These clusters were influenced by Mughals, thanks to their immensely influential art and culture. There are two needle types: First which is a long needle that is used for chain stitch, and the other is the small needle similar to the one we use in our homes for stitching buttons. We at WNW use these small needles for zardozi work and high finesse artworks. The usage of metallic elements like salma, dubka, zari with small needles to create legacy artworks on your apparel is also done. Going forward, we want to be an embroidery first, then an apparel first brand. We want to increase scope of our works from apparels to personalized indulgence like wall arts, personal upholstery etc. Also, we have a larger intent to bring prestige to the artisans and for that it is important to take this and the art we produce to a global stage.

What makes the WNW needlework special? Why is the brand and it’s work different to others?

In this fast-paced world, everything is moving towards being absolutely dynamic very quickly. Fast fashion has taken world by storm. Dum Biryani is no more dum, it is not slow cooked as in ancient times. But the truth is, everyone around us enjoy pauses in life, while we enjoy the moments in life. WNW is the true, slow cooked dum biryani in a modern fast paced life.

Our needlework preserves legacy, heritage, tradition, and culture like no other. We make very detailed embroidery with traditional motifs where skilled artisans put 1000s of their precious hours to craft a garment, we are so proud of. We are glad to have pioneered this over the last two decades and do it like no other.

What sort of stories do you share/want to share with the handcrafted embroidered pieces?

We try to provide the viewer and the wearer a sense of luxury, beauty, belongingness. The clothes adorned by anyone must make them feel pampered in luxury just as much as someone from amongst the royals would. We share and weave stories of love and royalty through our embroideries while keeping in mind the inclusion of a variety of motifs that run through our collections as a whole. The charm of the embroidered pieces of garments evokes a sense of indulgence and create a sense of sophistication. We view the garment and all our pieces, not as utility, but rather an exhibit of luxury through carefully crafted details.

What is the legacy that you would like for WNW to achieve?

A global brand that is taking India, global. Of creating world class luxury in never thought of product categories and make real change in the life of artisans and make their children proud of their parents. As well as the wish for a Padmashree during our journey.

We use traditional craftsmanship in our products. That does not imply that our products do not resonate with modern markets. See, the market being modern is one thing and using traditional techniques is another thing. So, we are using traditional techniques and traditional craftsmanship in a way and a manner to stay relevant. The Selection of motives, storytelling, narrative, these are all the things which our young audiences relate to. So, we try to create a narrative which is young, which is relevant, and that narrative is being communicated by using techniques that are traditionally developed. Hence, those are two widely different concepts. A bride becomes a bride once in a lifetime, which is a heart-touching and an emotional moment. That is the time, even the most modern of the brides want to feel and see culture and experience the tradition they are a part of. I think this special day is when most modern people want to have beliefs laced with tradition on their auspicious day.

What has been the most adverse reaction someone has had to one of your carefully crafted bridal lehengas?

That’s quite an interesting question actually! I would not say adverse, but I would rather say that a lack of education or lack of understanding of art. So, there have been multiple instances where people have not actually understood the art form, which I would rather address it as a lack of knowledge. Instead of seeing it as a problem though, I see this as an opportunity. Only when people demonstrate that they don’t know certain things, I see it as an opportunity to educate them about embroidery, the way it is done, the way it moves in the value chain, as well as about the different types of techniques that are used and so on and so forth. Therefore, instead of remembering what the most adverse reaction was I would rather spend my time in remembering what were the different opportunities which I got in my life to educate people about these handcrafted bridal lehengas.

Which is the most weaved/used embroidery for the bridal lehengas in WNW?

Well, the most seen and the most widely used techniques in WNW are the zardozi embroidery techniques which were developed by Mughal settlements in, and around Kolkata and was made popular by them. It uses small needles to do hand embroidery, which can use multiple elements of the Zari, Dabka, Salma and Mukesh-work, along with supporting thread work of course, to give an attractive, colorful vibe to it. We use it to create royal motives which is the central theme of our design philosophy which is what we are popular for. Along with the aforementioned, we use different techniques with these elements in cohesion which are extremely tactile, fine, and intricate in nature like 120 Kasab weave, and 28 No. Dabka weave. These make us different in the eyes of a consumer.

Well, one thing we know for sure, is that the brand is not just here to stay, but it’s here to make a profound mark in the industry. Speaking to Harsh for quite a while about his brand has made us believe that WNW not only produces garments but it’s entire fabric of existence is the people who make it, people who surround it, and people for whom each piece is made. People and stories constitute the company which makes it a very tight knit community at large. One thing has been stressed about time and again by Harsh and that is the importance of intangibility, whether it be respect, love, admiration, indulgence, or luxury. The brand plays not just with one’s sense of visual aesthetics, but rather asks one to allow them to etch your emotions with their needles. We hope that WNW keeps creating memories and can one day, in all fairness, receive the dream of being lauded with a Padmashree.


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