Brocade fabric is any fabric in which patterns are created by inserting the pattern thread between the warp thread. This is a very rich, decorative textile that is woven in colored silks using shuttles and looms; it may or may not have supplemental gold or silver threads. The goal is to achieve ornamental designs on the fabric that look like they are embroidered on. Such low relief designs are actually a part of brocade fabrics, created by using a supplementary weft technique in addition to the standard weft.
Brocade fabrics have been produced since ancient times, in centers of textile production located around the world. This costly fabric has a very rich and beautiful look and is considered extremely exclusive, which is why it has been the preferred fabric of the upper classes for many centuries. Today, in western culture, it is primarily used in home furnishings and to create beautiful, special-occasion garments like bridal gowns.
On the other hand, the brocade weaving industry is still flourishing in India, where brocades are used to produce a wide variety of gorgeous, traditional as well as modern ethnic garments. Indian brocade fabric has been produced here since the pre-medieval times. The brocade industry was focused around the main textile producing centers in the country such as Mysore and Banaras and really flourished during the reign of the Mughals. It was a key part of courtly fashions, much coveted by the upper-class men and women.
Over the years, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, then called Banaras, became the main center of production of brocade fabrics. In fact, Banarasi brocade fabric is still renowned around the world as one of the most exquisite and magnificent fabrics in existence. It is used to make sarees as well as lehenga cholis and salwar kameez. It comes in many gorgeous varieties and types, depending on the material used to make the fabric and the techniques and designs used to ornament it.
It was a key part of courtly fashions, much coveted by the upper-class men and women. Over the years, Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, then called Banaras, became the main center of production of brocade fabrics. In fact, Banarasi brocade fabric is still renowned around the world as one of the most exquisite and magnificent fabrics in existence. It is used to make sarees as well as lehenga cholis and salwar kameez. It comes in many gorgeous varieties and types, depending on the material used to make the fabric and the techniques and designs used to ornament it.
There are many sub-types of Indian brocade fabric; each is produced using unique techniques of weaving and with unique motifs and designs. From Tissue and Jamawar to Jamdani, Cutwork and Butidar, the options are many.
Types Of Brocade Fabric
Silk is the most popular and in-demand material used to create Banarasi brocades. Its smooth feel, shiny aesthetic and sturdy structure make it the perfect base material on which to weave detailed designs and patterns. It is the most popular brocade dress fabric for crafting fancy, special-occasion garments such as wedding sarees, bridal lehengas and party-wear salwar kameez. Silk brocade fabric is also a huge favorite with fashion designers, who are always looking for gorgeous Indian textiles to work into new and exciting designs.
Cotton brocade fabric has a more airy and light-weight look and feel. It has an elegant, delicate appearance that is further emphasized by the weavers through the use of smaller, more subtle motifs and designs. Cotton brocade is also quite comfortable and can be used to make garments that are both stylish and traditional, such as office-wear sarees, semi-formal skirts and informal salwar kameez.
The richest and luxurious of the Banarasi fabrics is zari brocade. This is a type of silk brocade fabric that utilizes threads of silver, gold or copper to create dazzling designs. When this industry was patronized by rich merchants, nobles and the royal family, the thread used would often be of pure gold or silver. Over time, weavers have begun to use more cost-effective substitutes so as to widen the customer base for zari brocade fabrics. The richly decorated Banarasi sarees, known for their glorious, traditional beauty, are made using this fabric.
Indian brocade fabric can come in many different hues, materials and designs. From bright shades like red, blue, green, and yellow to simple beige and black, a vast range of color options are available today. Similarly, the choice of materials is also quite diverse, including classic silk and cotton as well as chiffon, georgette and muslin. The motifs woven into the fabric typically include bits of Persian inspired artwork, mythological scenes, nature based depictions of flowers and trees and other Indian designs. Today, weavers also incorporate more modern, western inspired motifs to appeal to a wider customer base.
Brocade fabric is today used to make all types of Indian garments, from sarees and salwar kameez to kurtas, lehenga cholis and sherwanis. It is always possible to buy ready-made garments made with this fabric, though many prefer to buy uncut textiles and then convert them into tailor made garments. It all depends on the requirements of each customer.
Typically, brocade fabrics have a very rich, detailed look, so accessorizing them with rich-looking Indian jewelry is a must. For instance, black brocade fabric with golden zari work can be paired with gold jewelry including bangles, earrings and mang-tikka. A typical brightly colored brocade garment will pair well with Kundan and Polki jewelry.