The journey of 'khadi'

Transformed Fabric

The journey of 'khadi'

The khadi, popularised by Mahatma Gandhi during the pre-Independence era, has undergone a sea change over the decades.

On the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Metrolife interacts with designers and garment experts to understand the journey of this Indian fabric.

Designer Paresh Lamba points out that khadi is not a widely used fabric today because options like cotton and linen have replaced it. He says that though khadi was popularly observed as the politician’s fabric, it has now moved to nightclubs. “With the detailing, technique and the fact that the fabric is not the simple texture anymore, youngsters are often using khadi outfits as a style statement. They pair up a bandi with T-shirts, which gives a classy look,” he details.

Designer Namrata G says that the fabric has evolved over the years. “There is a larger variety available and a lot of innovation has gone into it. I have a collection in khadi — the ‘earth easy collection’, a natural collection with vests, shirts, trousers and kurtas. Khadi is one of those amazing fabrics to work with, which falls well and hold any detailing very well,” she elaborates. “The garment is being taken more seriously now,” she says.

The price of the fabric has shot up in the past few years. Most people dealing with
khadi agree that for the labour that is put into the garment, prices are bound to increase. Saurabh Goel, proprietor of Khadi Bhandar, Commercial Street, says that the price of the fabric has doubled in the past five years.

“Now we have varieties available in khadi cotton from Rs 90 to Rs 400 per metre, and in khadi silk from Rs 300 to Rs 600 per metre. The changes in labour rates affects the production of the fabric,” he says. Saurabh also adds that the shop sees double the customers when the discounts for Gandhi Jayanti are on, since festivals like Dasara and Deepavali often fall into this season.

“More research and development needs to go into khadi. I’ve tried a lot with khadi like double-shade blazers, anarkalis, lehenga cholis, shirts, sleeveless jackets; as the fabric is really special,” says designer Sanjay Choraria. He adds that something special he does with the fabric is giving it a leather wash, which makes the fabric look modern.

Designer Ritu Kumar says that despite the fabric being one of the best in the market, khadi is facing a crisis.

“The access to authentic khadi is limited and there is not much encouragement for the weavers. There must be more focus on such traditional fabrics,” says Ritu.

She brings out a collection in khadi twice a year and feels that khadi was and will always be an elite fabric. “The beauty of the fabric is that not much detailing is required for khadi, as it is unique in itself,” she says. Despite all this, there are designers who passionately love the fabric and want the fabric to be popularly used. Tara Aslam, a fashionista, works mainly with khadi.

“Anyone who appreciates khadi will be able to understand the price changes and respect the art and the artisan behind the fabric. I have a 21-year-old daughter and I’d like her and other youngsters to understand the traditional fabric and its importance. Through my creations, which have Lambani embroidery or buttons to add to the detailing, I have tried to communicate the USP of the fabric. Khadi is a fabric, which one can use through the year,” she wraps up.

Comments (+)