India Re-invents its Vibrant Colors

Christian Science Monitor

February 23, 2012

Although a traditional craft, block printing’s survival is in fact entwined with globalization. In the 1960s and ’70s, Western designers who followed the “hippie trail” to India revived the craft, which was threatened by the rise of inexpensive machine-made textiles in the 20th century. They modernized block printing with new designs, techniques, and fashions that appealed to export markets in Europe and North America.

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The craft’s future will be shaped by the tides of a shifting global economy. In the past decade, as incomes rise in India and consumer tastes change, the domestic market is increasingly important, especially in the wake of the global economic recession. At some leading Indian block-print retailers, the domestic business has surpassed the export one. The tastes and buying power of Indian customers rather than just Western ones will influence the future of the craft.

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