Designers are introducing an urban sensitivity to handspun and hand-woven khadi.
Fabric is a designer’s canvas. And we have a whole spectrum of pure, natural and beautifully textured blends of fabrics to narrate the story of Indian fashion — from linens, handlooms, khadi to cottons, knits, silks. And if runway trends are anything to go by, fashion’s current favourite is khadi. Designers reveal that the fabric of freedom is here to rule — but in a whole new reinvented avatar.
Designer Jyoti Sachdev Iyer says, “Khadi’s uniqueness can be measured in terms of its ability to express multi-layered emotions like joy, exuberance, bravado and sacrifice. Importantly, this fabric gives us an independent national identity.” But is there a market for the all-Indian fabric? “Yes, certainly. From dresses, jackets, shirt dresses, tunics, pants and deconstructed local silhouettes, saving Indian prêt from drowning in the sea of ready-to- wear from international brands is going to be the Indian fashion industry’s main agenda and working with khadi, promoting it widely is the way forward,” she says.
At the ongoing Lakme Fashion Week, designer brand 11.11/eleven eleven showcased an entire collection dedicated to the fabric —“The Khadi Way”. They took their ombré story a notch up and presented signature bandhani patterns in fresh hues of smoke, wine, ochré along with ivory, whiskey, gold and shades of the ever-popular indigo. Bringing stylish affordable active wear for everyday fashion, the brand ensured that khadi formed a fashion statement in wardrobes with fluid tent dresses, comfortable dyed skirts and relaxed long-sleeved blouses, khadi mixed with kantha patchwork line of jackets, draped dress, etc.
Elaborating on the unique qualities of the Indian fabric, designer Ridhima Bhasin says, “Khadi is a unique handspun and hand-woven fabric and most importantly, it is environment-friendly. The fabric is usually made from cotton fibre but contrary to popular belief, khadi is also manufactured with silk and wool, adding to its uniqueness. It is a versatile fabric that is being used in equally versatile ways. With its slightly rugged texture, khadi has a remarkable quality to keep people warm in winters and cool during summers! It is a fabric that can be used all year long. khadi was often associated with kurtas and Indian wear, but today we have dresses, shirts, skirts, pullovers, bags, shoes, saris, etc. made of the fabric. It’s slightly stiff but drapes very well, you can use embellishments and give it an entirely eccentric look.”
Lastly, Jyoti adds that handloom is again coming into its own — this time in a new way, with an urban tinge to its look. “Handmade has become luxury now and khadi falls effortlessly into that category. Creating highbrow aspiration, turning handlooms, including khadi, into affordable luxury for a discerning clientele, modernising the weave — designers are introducing an urban sensitivity to handlooms, which is really good. As the world moves towards industrial fashion, only India can nurture, through handlooms, the most natural lifestyle, given the environmental situation in the globe.”