Pakistani crafts have not effectively accessed markets beyond the country’s borders and need success in international markets for long-term sustainability. There has been a noticeably subtle yet persistent pessimism among artisans about ancient skills dying out.

However, the Indus Heritage Trust (IHT) with support from ATA, through the RANG project, is determined to add a modern flair and contemporary style to preserve and take this traditional craft overseas. The greatest strength of Pakistani textile craft is the beauty and cultural significance of the embroidery. Nearly as important is the large weaving capacity which IHT takes ad-vantage of together with the available textile capacities and natural dyeing methods and finally blending in the beautiful embroidery skills that makes it exclusive.

The overall goal of RANG (“color” in Urdu) is to improve livelihoods of rural artisans in the provinces of Punjab and Sindh by primarily alleviating poverty and improving living conditions for embroiderers, most of them women and girls, and their fami-lies. The project aims to assist around 2,600 vulnerable artisan households, especially those headed by women, at the bottom of the economic pyramid. Averaging 7 members in each family in the project areas, RANG is expected to benefit a population of about 18,200 individuals, about 70% of them women.

“We are really happy especially for the provision of livelihood at our doorsteps. We are also thankful to IHT for taking us to a forum where we can rightly portray our potential. Our stitches are unique, but we did not have proper exposure. We are thankful for this opportunity that gave us new designs and skills to enhance their products through skills workshop,” states a master weaver.

During the Fall 2016, two ATA International Designers along with the IHT designer team have been busy developing two main lines, Virasat (Heritage) and Rang (Color) that will be the main product lines for the upcoming NY NOW in February 2017. Virasat and Virsa design focus is composed of classic new linens, organic cotton, hand embroidery, indigenous heritage motifs and detail with a neutral color palette of warm ivory and natural whites. In contrast the Rangeen collection, their star features comprise of floor and bed throw pillows in bold colorful collection.
“We have very good perception about the west that international markets would open new and great avenues for our skill development and product sale,” said one of the participating artisans.

The new design plan consists of a collection of home décor, table top, bedding, and embroidered scarves. These collections are being developed through long distance collaboration and training.

Project coordinator Mehreen Aslam attributes IHT artisans’ new found confidence to ATA designers who have been providing guidance and ideas for presenting the product line at NY NOW. “We are looking forward to long-distance train-ing provided by ATA in marketing and packaging. The real test of our efforts will depend on the outcome at NY NOW” says Aslam.

Chairperson Siddiqa Malik states “My vision is to make IHT into a model organization in the preservation, revival, promo-tion and production of Pakistan’s traditional arts in textiles.” She would also like IHT to help grass roots level artisans to organize themselves into groups to become entrepreneurs. We wish IHT team and artisans the very best in sharing their skills and talents in taking Pakistan to the world in a dynamic way at NY NOW in February 2017.

Please make sure to stop by the ATA booth at NY NOW this February to check this new product line.