The ethnic splendour

Humble fabric

The ethnic splendour

This fabric triggered a revolution during India’s struggle for Independence. But until recently, khadi was worn mainly by the politicians and didn’t appeal much to youngsters.

Today, with more designers promoting it, it is back in vogue. Abraham & Thakore, Bibi Russell, Gaurang Shah and the City’s very own fashion guru Prasad Bidapa are among the many who are promoting it.

Khadi, that was used only in traditional ‘kurtas’, is now being used in Western garments. It will soon become an international sensation, says Prasad. “It is popularly known as the fabric of freedom and has a huge emotional connect. It is the perfect fabric for our tropical climate and depending on the variety, it is suitable for winters too. From the finest of clothes to coarse blankets, khadi can be used in a thousand ways.”

Designer Gaurang Shah, who exclusively works with khadi, adds that there is no limit to creativity with this fabric. “For my show at the Berlin Fashion Week, we made jumpsuits and ‘kaftan’ dresses in khadi . They were widely appreciated by the audience. In our country, saris, ‘dupattas’ and basically, any form of khadi are all-time favourites. The ‘jamdani’ weaving technique, though time-taking and tedious, gives no limit to my design process. Thanks to that, one can weave the most intricate designs in khadi,” she adds.

There are khadi stoles, dresses, ‘anarkalis’, ‘lehengas’, jumpsuits, palazzos, skirts and even shorts. “If the Irish could take linen to a global audience, Indians can also make khadi an important fabric,” says Prasad.

While the designers are doing their best, the government also has a lot of stores dedicated to khadi. But the designers feel that there have to be more modern designs in khadi to make it globally acceptable. Prasad adds, “We don’t realise the value of khadi. It is reduced to a cheap fabric, thanks to skewed policies, and have resulted in the production of sub-standard fabrics, which lie languishing in stores run by the government. The government of Rajasthan recently created a project where international designer Bibi Russell worked directly with weaver clusters to contemporise, innovate and refine khadi fabrics that resulted in a superb series of textiles.”

Prasad also feels that young designers need to promote khadi even more.  Gaurang adds, “The fabric is gaining the importance it truly deserves. It can be made even more popular by creating various contemporary textures. Creating a ‘pret’ range and keeping it
comfortable will make it more wearable.” 

Mabel, a professional, who adores the fabric, says, “It should be made more accessible.”     Other than for government shops, there are also many brands which are creating various garments with this fashionable fabric.

Prasad, who wants to see this fabric on the global runway, sums up saying, “By improving the quality, design and distribution, we hope to create a khadi product that will have a global resonance, which will make it fresh and appealing to a new generation of fashionistas, allowing it to take its rightful place as a true luxury product.”

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