Khadi – A fabric to unite humanity
By: Debangana Roy
KHADI & ITS HISTORY:
Indian Khadi fabric also known as khaddar, is hand-spun and handwoven, usually from cotton fibre. Contrary to popular belief, khadi is also manufactured from silk and wool, known as khadi silk or woollen khadi respectively. . Before Independence, khadi manufacturing gained momentum under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership as a movement to boycott British clothes. The use of Khadi clothing was meant to employ the rural population. Gandhi also felt that in a county where manual labour was looked down upon, it was an occupation to bring high and low, rich and poor together, to show them the dignity of hand-labour.
The Indian flag is also made from khadi and it holds national importance. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) is the Indian government body that promotes khadi, whose production and the sale comes under the small scale industry sector.
The presence of khadi in India has been for a long time. Many historians have mentioned the presence of Khadi-like material in the handwoven materials of the Mohenjo-Daro civilization. Even during the time of Alexander's invasion in India, the greek army wore clothes made of Indian cotton as they were far more comfortable.
Not khadi material but the handwoven fabric was very popular in the ancient times, in the Mughal empire handwoven fabric used to be very popular especially Muslin fabric.
How is this fabric different from other fabrics?
The fabric is known for its rugged texture, comfortable feel, and ability to keep people warm in winter while keeping them cool during the summer. It is enhanced by washing - the more you wash it the better it looks. The wearer of khadi feels royal and distinguishable because of its fall. Khadi is a highly versatile material, from weaving sarees and Indian clothes to making western garments it's now making advancement towards the fashion weeks as well. Khadi fabric is not only restricted to clothes; but has also found its space in various crafts, shoes, and home décor.
Efforts made by designers and brand to preserve it:
At Lakmé Fashion Week summer/resort 2019, Raymond x Antar-Agni and House of Anita Dongre both joined hands with UNDP in India and IMG Reliance for ‘Weaving Partnerships for Change', each showcasing a collection with handwoven garments created by women weavers in Assam.
Arvind Limited has pledged to buy one million metres of the fabric every year to produce an innovative khadi offering. Among the designers, Anavila Misra has been using khadi since the inception of her eponymous brand in 2011. Couturier Sabyasachi Mukherjee has been championing khadi since 2002, and was arguably the first Indian designer to use this humble textile as a canvas for bridal couture. In the age of growing mindfulness towards both the self and the environment, and with support from both the government and designers, there's hope for home-grown industries such as this one to flourish.
Khadi – the new favourite of modern women:
Khadi has been a total love for fashionistas these days. Even International designers are keen on designing this fabric by giving it a contemporary vibe. One of the best factors of khadi is that it is eco friendly and causes no allergies or irritation to the body, it is anti-bacterial and provides protection from UV rays. Another advantage of investing in khadi materials is that they last much longer than other materials.
Khadi, as a fabric is a balance of tradition and modernity. It has been and will always be an inseparable part of the Indian culture.