Khadi gets a new look

It has long been a part of the Indian identity, but its sustainable nature makes it a ‘futuristic’ fabric
Last Updated : 01 October 2019, 12:37 IST
Last Updated : 01 October 2019, 12:37 IST
Last Updated : 01 October 2019, 12:37 IST
Last Updated : 01 October 2019, 12:37 IST

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What started as the beginning of Swadeshi Movement by Mahatma Gandhi in 1920, has now gained prominence not just in India but around the globe.

Initially seen as a a symbol of Indian identity, khadi has now become a fashion statement. An employment generator for lakhs of rural artisans, the fabric also deserves praise for its eco-friendly and sustainable nature.

Designers today are reinventing the khadi fabric to suit the needs of the modern generation. But why is the revival important and who are designers doing it? Metrolife finds out.

Tara Aslam, city-based designer, feels that though khadi has never gone out of anyone’s mind, the silhouettes are changing according to today’s needs to make sure people consider Khadi for their everyday wardrobe.

“Khadi is a sustainable fabric and it doesn’t need any power and there is very less carbon footprint,” she says.

She uses technical experts from the weaving community to make the textile better suited for the modern generation.

Since it is handwoven and hand-spun, Khadi keeps one cool in summer and warm in winter. It has the fluffiness needed to absorb both air and moisture.

“Thanks to its versatility, the fabric can be designed as high-street clothing and a ramp-ready garment alike. For example, the fabric that comes from Bengal is of the muslin quality and the ‘ponduru khadi’ from Andhra Pradesh is known for its finesse and export quality,” says Aslam.

While so many people are involved in making this fabric contemporary and stylish, Tara says that it is important to make it affordable for the masses and that it shouldn’t be confined to a designer label.

Purple check ‘tope teni’sari by Metaphor Racha.
Purple check ‘tope teni’
sari by Metaphor Racha.

Why should millennials know the traditional fabric?

Khadi enthusiast and founder of Metaphor Racha, Ravi Kiran, who aims to work with local craftsmen and help create a utilitarian value for khadi, call the fabric “futuristic”. “This generation is eco-sensitive and is doing all they can in their capacity to be eco-friendly. So, when it comes to textile, nothing can be better than khadi.”

It generates employment opportunity

Khadi is the key not only because of the fashion and aesthetic factors but it also contributes to the economy by providing employment to a large number of rural artisans.

“Given that the fabric is handwoven and handspun, many women in villages are employed. When the the women are employed, the family does not have to migrate for jobs to big cities, where they live in slums. It is perhaps a selfish interest but as long as khadi is woven, many men and women will get jobs,” says Kiran.

There is an interdependency that we see between farmers and weavers. This doesn’t happen in any other garment industry. When one buys khadi, they are indirectly sustaining a cotton farmer’s life, too.

Not restricted to just garments

Though khadi is largely popular for garments, Kiran says khadi is a versatile fabric and one can even look for home essentials like towels, table mats, quilt, cushion covers, handkerchief, bedsheets and curtains in khadi.

“I don’t want to project khadi as a fashionable item because anything that is fashionable has a shelf life. Khadi has survived for the last 100 years and I hope it continues to do so in future. It should be a fabric that is a part of one’s principles and should be an everyday textile,” says Kiran.

Benefits of khadi

  • The handwoven fabric is porous, making it comfortable for the skin to breathe easily through the fabric.
  • It is an all-weather fabric; keeps one cool in summer and warm in winters.
  • The production of this fabric requires hundreds of hands, thus, every metre has a different look and finish. This makes khadi very exclusive.
  • It is eco-friendly and great for a sustainable way of life.
Published 01 October 2019, 12:37 IST

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