Dress made up of Khadi fabric.
Once a symbol of India's independence movement popularised by
Mahatma Gandhi, handspun khadi has got a makeover and become a
style statement. It's no longer seen as a poor man's cloth, thanks
to designers giving it a modern touch.
"Khadi has come to represent a handmade-in-India product of value
and pride. And while it continues to be a symbol of freedom, it
also represents an evolving India - the best of India's past
endures in this ancient weave, yet it embraces elements of
contemporary India to find a new synthesis and relevance,"
designer Deepika Gehani told IANS.
Gehani showcased a successful khadi collection at Lakme Fashion
Week (LFW) and the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week (WIFW). She
is one of the few designers who managed to give khadi a makeover
by using her imagination and new techniques of weaving.
"Khadi blends that I developed in the year 2000 swept the
traditional fabric to higher fashion echelons. I did it by
blending khadi silk and khadi cotton with manmade eco-fibres 'tencel'
and 'modal' (extracted from tree bark). This blend makes the
fabric ideal for contemporary Indian as well as Western cuts,"
Gandhiji, whose birth anniversary will be celebrated Oct 2,
advocated khadi as part of the independence movement and new age
designers feel the handspun fabric connects with slogans like
eco-friendliness and rural empowerment.
"Well after over 60 years of independence and definitely over
about 75 years since Gandhi first began to spin the iconic fabric,
the world has changed. Eco-friendly and rural empowerment have
become new slogans and people with discerning tastes and social
concerns are keen to continue the ideals of the Mahatma. It is but
natural that khadi has moved out of the popular genre to a more
elite class to an extent," said designer Wendell Rodricks.
Rodricks says khadi offers many design variations and this quality
makes the fabric a global entity.
"Khadi enjoys the endorsement of many designers. I had been
invited to open the world's largest organic fair at Nuremberg in
February this year where I developed yarns in new pastel shades
and they definitely made an impact.
"With hand-woven and eco-dyed fabric, the possibilities are
endless. It all depends on how far one can dream up creative
ideas," he said.
These days khadi silk and khadi cotton are finding prominence and
khadi-viscose blends are also used extensively by stylists.
Rahul Mishra says he has showcased a "khadi collection in various
forms like jumpsuits, skirts, tunics and trousers and, trust me, I
can easily make lingerie and bustiers in khadi fabrics; so the
designs are many."
He adds that fabrics look elegant when kept simple.
"There is no need to glamorise khadi. Those who want a minimal
look with a deep sense of Gandhian aesthetics will enjoy khadi in
its natural form. If you really want to go for bling and shimmer,
then go for satins, linens and chiffons," he added.
Khadi is not restricted to clothes; it has found space in various
crafts, shoes and home decor.
"Silk khadi, which is available in a variety of hues and shades,
adds elegance and a touch of royalty to any space. The dye gives
the cloth a whole new dimension and looks great on cushions,
tablecloths, runners, curtains, or sofa covers. Beautifully
textured, sensuous and skin friendly, it also makes for great sofa
covers," said Parul Jain.
With increased demand for khadi fabrics and with designers like
Ritu Kumar, Sabyasaachi Mukherjee, Rahul Mishra and Anand Kabra
using khadi extensively, it's is obvious that price will shoot up.
The price of cotton khadi in local market is somewhere between
Rs.34 and Rs.82 per metre, while if you want to buy a designer
scarf, you may have to shell out Rs.4,000.
Rodricks feels with increased demand, prices have increased, but
what worries him is the condition of weavers as they are not
getting their due.
"Yes, the price has definitely increased because of the high
demand. But what has not increased is the wage of workers who work
hard to produce such fabrics. From the suicide of farmers to sweat
workers who get paid a pittance after spending too many hours a
day in a very unhygienic, cramped condition-these stories are
definitely horrific. I would say that fast fashion is somehow
ruining the fashion industry," he added.
(Nivedita Sharma can be contacted at email@example.com)