Handspun and hand woven, khadi is a symbol of the Indian freedom movement. Fostered by Mahatama Gandhi, khadi and his beloved charkha, represented an antithesis to mass-made British fabrics and milled textiles. An analogy of national pride, the natural cloth with its very humble beginnings delivered a message of freedom that lend to a sartorial revolution.
By encouraging freedom fighters to spin and wear khaddar, Gandhiji saw this as a way to empower and support local weavers and villagers, which in turn, helped to sustain the economy. By honoring the handicraft, he was able to spread a wider message across India; a message of self-sustainability and freedom (from the British colonial rule). Were the masses intrigued and driven? Well, history says it all.
Fast-forward some decades and we have Mr. Modi carrying forth Gandhi’s movement and Big B himself representing khadi as a brand ambassador. Unlike Bapu, political honchos today have ditched the dhotis and adopted khadi kurtas and topis, and no, none of them weave their own khadi. However, Indian fashion designers have revived khadi by giving it a slightly contemporary look and feel that’s fitting for today’s tastes. It gives the wearer, a chance to embody the past, while working with modern renditions.
Hand spun, khadi’s distinct character is the slub yarn that’s twisted from either cotton or silk that gives it an uneven texture. Its unique property is that the homegrown cloth is warm in winter and cool in summer, which makes it ideal for transitional dressing. In modern times, khadi has been woven in high counts that gives it an excellent drape and makes it appealing for designers to use. At the beginning of the year, designers Rohit Bal, Anamika Khanna and Rajesh Pratap Singh came together to showcase an exclusive range of khadi collections at a FDCI show held in Ahmedabad. Called “From Huts to The High Street”, the designers worked closely with handloom weavers to create a collection that was both stunning and rooted.
And if that hasn’t got your attention yet, this will. Releasing in a week’s time, Pan (based loosely on Peter Pan) starring Hugh Jackman and Cara Delevingne, showcases khadi as a major base for all its costumes. Sourcing the fabric (approx. 2000 metres!) from Moralfibres, an Ahmedabad-based company, costume designer Jacqueline Durran “fell in love” with khadi’s old world charm and natural richness. So, IF you ever thought khadi was solely worn if you belonged to a political-party, then you might want to think again.