It's the kind of place you can't walk into without picking up something - even if it is just a bar of hand-made soap. The first retail outlet of its kind, Daaram is the culmination of an effort of Dastakar Andhra, an NGO that works with the cotton handloom weavers of Andhra Pradesh in a co-operative manner.
While it has been a wholesale supplier to Fabindia
and other lesser known boutiques in the city, Daaram is the market exploration exercise that was undertaken by the good people at Dastakar Andhra to probably also show the state-run handloom stores how to build a better mouse trap.
In a time when everything you touch seems to be Made In China, or at least imported from some far-off country, Daaram, which means 'thread' in Telugu, offers you the labors of a cotton weaver from the East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh. Daaram, with its talk of transparency in the production cycle of indigenous crafts, and attempts to bring the artisan closer to his market, comes as a breath of fresh air in these jaded times of mass production and off-the-boats goods.
At first cut it does look like a Fabindia sibling - and why ever not, insofar as it too deals with the same handloom - natural dyes agenda. Nevertheless, it also has its own distinctive style, in its cuts and prints, recognized by the discerning client.
While the prices are similar, too - you can get a kurta for anywhere between Rs. 275 to Rs. 700 - the store does not just sell clothes and home needs - it pushes an ideology. For, that is what comes through shining when they hand you your purchase in a recycled newspaper bag.
So for all you handloom aficionados out there, here is a great way to both buy good quality handloom wear and also extend your valuable patronage to the artisans in your own neighborhood.