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Handloom in Changing Times

The Tamil Nadu handloom Weavers’ Co-operative Society Ltd., popularly known as Co-optex, was established in 1935 and is primarily engaged in marketing of handloom fabrics produced in Tamil Nadu. Co-optex has a network of 200 showrooms spread all over India with an annual turnover of around Rs.1000 Crore. Its logo the multi-hued butterfly is synonymous with quality, durability and fair trade.

The fabrics marketed by Co-optex represent an aesthetic quality and talk of the rich legacy of Tamil Nadu handlooms. By honing the skills of its weavers and developing innovative concepts, Co-optex has been successfully meeting the demands and challenges of the market. Each product of Co-optex displays the artistry and craftsmanship of weavers from Tamil Nadu.

In the 1920’s unemployment among weavers was rampant owing to the arrival of powerlooms. To counter this, the Government of India decided to organise a society in Madras consisting of all Weavers’ Co-operative Societies in the state. This paved the way to the establishment of Co-optex in 1935.

When Jawaharlal Nehru came on a tour to South India, the weavers of the Madras State submitted a petition against a cess on handlooms in the form of a book. The pages of this book were not paper but cloth, each depicting of a different weave of Tamil Nadu, with alternate pages printed upon.

Co-optex paid tribute to the legendary singer M.S Subbulakshmi in her centenary year celebrations (2015) by launching its very own MS blue collection with the traditional doublepet borders, and real zari. This rare shade of blue which was woven for her by Muthu Chettiar was in vogue during yesteryears.

Honoring Rukmini Devi, the founder of Kalakshetra, Co-optex revived silk sarees called ‘Rukmini Devi Collection’ characterised by broad borders, with traditional colours and motifs such as peacock, jasmine bud, thazhampoo and rudraksha, have been timeless classics.

The Head Office building of Co-optex was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister, K. Kamaraj, at Egmore, Chennai in 1956.

The Thillayadi Valliammai showroom located in Egmore was inaugurated by chief minister M.G Ramachandran in 1982.

The Weaver Cards attached to each saree is a unique initiative by Co-optex to introduce the weaver to his patrons. This card lists the weaver’s name and region along with his/her photograph, years of experience, the man-hours and effort taken to weave each saree.

Co-optex weavers are taken on exposure visits to introduce them to new and exceptional weaving techniques practiced in other parts of the country. Visiting newer places and techniques inspire them to create new designs in their weave.

The sacred silk cloth or vastram adorning Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala is born out of the nimble hands of the handloom weavers of cooperative societies in and around Salem.

The Weaver Cards attached to each saree is a unique initiative by Co-optex to introduce the weaver to his patrons. This card lists the weaver’s name and region along with his/her photograph, years of experience, the man-hours and effort taken to weave each saree.

Co-optex weavers are taken on exposure visits to introduce them to new and exceptional weaving techniques practiced in other parts of the country. Visiting newer places and techniques inspire them to create new designs in their weave.

The sacred silk cloth or vastram adorning Lord Venkateswara at Tirumala is born out of the nimble hands of the handloom weavers of cooperative societies in and around Salem.