The fabric khadi which carried the tag of Swadeshi (country made goods) in the 1920’s has got an improbable metamorphosis into the sought after fabric which is being elevated to the ranks of high street fashion by blending textures, patterns, and silhouettes to create garments with effortless style and global appeal.
We usually are bewildered with the difference between khadi and handloom which has a thin line of dissimilarity .
While both Khadi and Handloom are handmade, there is a very crucial difference between the two.
Handloom fabric as the name denotes is hand woven in basic manual looms with no automation. The yarns (thread which makes the structure of fabric) of Handloom fabrics are made using machine. A yarn count (measure of the thickness of yarn (higher, the thinner)) is easy to maintain and extremely high count is also easily possible as its machine made.
Khadi Fabrics however are handwoven with handspun yarns, meaning all Khadi is Handloom, but not all Handloom is Khadi. When a yarn, woven by hand, will have unevenness which is the essence of Khadi fabrics.
Gandhiji who was a forerunner and a torch bearer for adopting the Indian khadi to defy the British so that we could be self reliant and independent . It was a movement at that time wherein Indians started boycotting foreign textiles and start promoting Indian goods, which generated employment for the people of India and boosted the Indian economy .Khadi from being an austere fabric to a upmarket couture has taken a full circle .
Today, khadi fabrics are not just restricted to cotton as it blends with other fibres to make Raw Silk Khadi, Matka Khadi, Poly Khadi, Tussar Silk, and many more. The fabric that was initially available only in a single almond hue is now presented in 30 alluring shades. The fabric has gained a global recognition with the courtesy of the fashion industry that promotes the fabric.
After the potential of khadi being tapped by the well known designers Rohit Bal and Sabyasachi there is no looking back. These designers have utilize the fabric in such a manner that today this fabric is at an enviable position.
There are private labels such as Fab India, Nature Alley, Malkha,Metaphor Racha, Cotton Rack which directly work with artisans and weavers and create impeccable garments from the khadi fabric.
Designer Rajesh Pratap Singh, who weaves Khadi in his Faridabad workshop and works with West Bengal weavers, uses Khadi for his basic, pleated or appliquéd shirts or as a base for vegetable-dyed Ajrakh, creating jackets, tops, tunics and trousers.
Designers David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore of Abraham & Thakore (A&T) have worked with Khadi for two decades, for garments and home linen, retailing from international stores like the UK-based Conran Shop. “Khadi’s hand-spun texture makes it unique for design experimentation, dyeing, layering,” says Abraham.
The qualities that make khadi special is that it’s a weaver‘s delight. It is the most organic, breathable, comfortable and dyeable fabric made in India. It can also be styled in many ways. It is the fabric of the hour for hot Indian summers. It has a unique quality of keeping you cool in summer and warm in winter.
Ritu Beri who was recently appointed as adviser for the Centre’s Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC),wants to give this ‘signature fabric’ a makeover and take it to a global stage.In one of her interviews to HT she mentioned that she would love to rework the fabric’s look and reinvent it with modern designs to make it globally accepted. She wants to introduce state-of -the art designs and styles in khadi readymade garments. Also at (KVIC) they intend to promote the fabric and conduct exhibitions to enhance its image.
Since PM Modi has urged India to embrace Gandhi’s legacy Khadi in ‘Mann Ki Baat’
Khadi is one of the key initiative of the governments MAKE IN INDIA CAMPAIGN .
Khadi Day will be celebrated on September 19 for the very first time, also celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s return from South Africa. Festivities are on the cards in South Africa itself to promote khadi, followed by a Khadi Parade in New Delhi to celebrate the indigenous textile.
Call it the Smriti Irani effect but the fashion fraternity is bending backwards to make a handloom statement in every outing of its members. Soon on the heels of the FDCI signing a pact with the Handlooms Development Commissioner on adopting weaver clusters, another of India’s premier fashion and trade platforms, Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW), has dedicated its next edition to “sustainable fashion and Indian textiles.”
From the huts to high street Khadi has become the trend tracker hence making it the future fabric all over the world . For Indians it’s not just a fabric but a sense of freedom .
Written By: Jasmine Kaur Sahni