“The message of the spinning-wheel is much wider than its circumference.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Khadi or ‘khaddar’ is handspun, handwoven cloth which gained popularity during the freedom movement. But for Mahatma Gandhi, khadi was an idea – of self-reliance, freedom from oppression, and economic liberation. Even today, khadi clusters give employment to over 20 lakh people. Young and established designers see it as a symbol of sustainability and Indianness, after all, no two khadi fabrics can be identical.
Popular among Indian designers, this season saw khadi in its most versatile form. Sustainable designers like Gaurav Jai Gupta experimented with khadi and metal, Anavila showed her signature khadi saris, Ujjawal Dubey created khadi jackets with sharp cuts and Ajay Kumar used his digital prints on handloom fabrics that were developed throughout the country.
Most of what is called Khadi today is ambar charkha (mechanised) spun yarn. Amit and Richard of Amrich Designs have been working with women from an NGO in Bihar “to create fabrics that are developed using peti charkha (handspun) cotton yarn”. Praveen Chauhan, founder of Matr ( a social enterprise that promotes the skills of artisan communities), showcased ‘Bihar Khadi’ in a new avatar with dyeing, embroidery, and printing in a variety of patterns and colours.
But for mainstream ethnic fashion, designer Sailesh Singhania is close to changing the game. Creating beautiful saris in handspun khadi, he explains, “Our spring summer showcase at Lakme Fashion Week featured khadi jamdani saris made by a weaving couple from the village of the Sun God, Srikakulam, whereby each sari took eight months to weave and are handcrafted to absolute perfection.”
It is true that innovation is what makes fashion relevant. Samant Chauhan along with the Denim Club of India and the Textiles Committee has been developing handloom denims since 2009. Reinventing the humble khadi fabric, these garments have a very low carbon footprint and have been crafted out of 100 percent handloom denim and come with the Handloom Mark which authenticates its originality.
We are proud to report that young labels like Indigene, 11:11, Runaway Bicycle, Soham Dave and many more are reimagining the way we see khadi. By contemporizing this ancient weave and using it as a canvas for modern apparel, it isn’t hard to believe that Khadi can be pretty cool.
Text by Wyanet Vaz