In the wake of the pandemic, people from all over the world have suffered losses. Kiaayo has risen during these difficult times to extend a helping hand towards the artisans of Kutch who have dealt with tremendous monetary loss from being locked up in their native homes.
Kiaayo's main aim has been to employ the women of rural Kutch and other artisans who have had to resort to working as labourers instead of utilizing their artistic skills due to unemployment issues. Every apparel collection that is launched would be handcrafted by artisans from Kutch.
Culturally, Kutch is very rich. A great range of ethnic communities live in the region, most maintaining traditional dress and crafts of many sorts, including weaving, dyeing, printing, bandhani (tie-dye), embroidery, leather work, pottery, woodwork, and metalwork. In the last few decades, these traditional crafts have undergone tremendous change. As local villagers seek cheaper mass produced functional wares, artisans are compelled to find new markets. Fortunately, sophisticated urban markets have welcomed the concept of traditional crafts. However, traditional work must adapt to the new clientele. In addition, since the market has expanded, innovations must now be faster and less subtle. While enterprising, artisans do not always have adequate information about the tastes of new markets. For a myriad of reasons including social attitudes, they do not have access to the better markets.
Commercialization in this situation has induced a downward spiral of declining quality. In efforts to revive quality, it has been recognized that new design is needed to make craft sustainable. But conventionally, this has been perceived as a need for design intervention, in the form of trained designers giving new designs to artisans. The implication is that designers have knowledge, while artisans have skills. When design, or art, is separated from craft, or labor, the artisan is essentially reduced to a laborer, reinforcing the low social status of craft. Further, most commercialized craft aims for quick, standardized and low cost replication. This emulates the factory model. The strength of hand craft, the personal, handmade quality, is forgotten. The net result is that even when artisans can earn a living by producing contemporary versions, most do not wish their children to be artisans. Surely, design input is needed for new markets. But Kiaayo believes that the approach must be altered to enable the artisan to be significantly involved in both design and craft.
Kiaayo’s vision is to establish Kutchi Handloom in its rightful place of true luxury: one built on foundations of artistry, purity, handmade and craftsmanship. Aim is to have a vibrant, sustainable craft sector in which crafts and artisans alike are highly valued by people worldwide.
Kiaayo has been trying to save the livelihood for hundreds of rural artisans. Kiaayo has made a significant contribution to the lives of the Kutch artisans working with it, which has helped improve their economic as well as social status. Kiaayo strives to bring the traditions of Kutch to customers all around the world with its unique creations and products. It not only helps its artisans become wage earners, but also spreads awareness about the traditional crafts of the region, thus helping preserve a rich part of India’s national cultural heritage.