Khadi – natural, organic and handcrafted
Khadi is not merely a piece of cloth. It is a philosophy. A way of life. A symbol of empowerment of pride of history of a great man's vision of the relevance of roots.
A window to India, carrying the smell of the soil. Blending the wisdom of the old with the needs of the present. Offering way to return to nature.
Handspun, Hand woven, Refined, Pure, Elegance nurtured in the lap of the earth. An excellence beyond just mechanical perfection.
A gift for today from the treasury of the past. A gift from India.
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 a great extent.
What really works for khadi is its texture. Designers love the way the fabric soaks up colour: Vegetable dyes and indigo colour get a lot of depth on khadi.
Khadi works better generally in tunics and simpler shapes as it does not fall well in bias cut (diagonal cuts). It’s a super fabric for Indian saris with its fall and drape.
khadi also has a breathability which works in its favour. Any garment that requires draping looks good in khadi. Also, layered garments in two different colours also work well in khadi.
Handspun khadi, unlike mill-produced fabrics, becomes suppler with every wash. Blending khadi silk and khadi cotton with manmade eco-fibres 'tencel' and 'modal' (extracted from tree bark) makes the fabric ideal for contemporary Indian as well as Western cuts. Khadi’s unique thermal effect lends it warmth in winter and makes it a cool summer fabric.
For a holiday, people look for clothes which are comfortable, have great texture and are skin-friendly. The only fabrics that fit the bill are silk and khadi. Silk, however, gets spoilt in water but khadi is unaffected.
But despite khadi’s makeover, it’s difficult to divorce it from its origins. It’s history and the fact that it’s hand-woven and handspun, gives it a romantic appeal.
Another factor that works in khadi’s favour is that it’s ecologically sustainable. The short-stapled (which has short threads) desi variety of khadi, which is suitable for the hand-worked charkha, is ecologically viable as it does not use pesticides.
The road ahead
Though khadi is in the reckoning as a Wanted fabric for summerwear, designers feel that its full potential is yet to be realised. While there has been a huge revival of khadi, a lot more can be done for it. Khadi’s USP is that it’s hand-crafted from start to finish. It needs to be valued, positioned and marketed as a premium handmade product.
Being handspun khadi takes a long time to make, which to many, seems like a disadvantage. It’s a challenge up to us how we turn this around and market khadi’s exclusivity.