Renowned for its unique handwoven texture, khadi is well known to offer effortless drapability owing to its lightness.
The fabric's delicate weight contributes to its versatility, allowing it to gracefully adapt to varying weather conditions while retaining its elegance and comfort. From the warmth of summers to the chill of winters, khadi's breathable and insulating embrace ensures a seamless transition, offering a blend of style and functionality in each fold.
Yet, for the longest time, khadi was identified by its rough texture and over-simplified silhouettes.
Not anymore, though. Several designers are now using the fabric to offer contemporary as well as traditional designs in vivid colours. With enough experimentation by the Indian fashion industry, consumers have become well aware of how trendy and timeless khadi is. Today, the fabric, which was promoted by M.K. Gandhi as swadeshi (self-sufficiency) for the freedom struggle of the Indian subcontinent, is part of ready-to-wear collections as well as haute couture lines, even extending to bridal lehngas.
The other reason for the growing popularity of khadi is its made-in-India narrative. Earlier this month, while speaking at the ninth National Handloom Day in Delhi's Pragati Maidan complex, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said khadi "is not just a piece of cloth but also a weapon for those with self-respect, who is proud of the nation, and who dreams of ‘aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India),” according to a Hindustan Times report.
What's more, today's eco-conscious shopper wants to invest in garments that are all about responsible consumption and mindful living. Crafted from natural fibres like cotton, silk and wool, khadi offers exactly that. Khadi also plays a pivotal role in nurturing local economies and preserving traditional techniques. On an average, it takes anywhere from five days to six months, depending on intricacy of the weave, to create a single khadi saree. More than 150 skilled artisans collaborate across various stages of the process, including spinning, pre-loom procedures, dyeing, and the weaving itself. Major weaving clusters of the fabric include West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
In an era defined by slow and mindful fashion and trends like quiet luxury, the khadi fabric works seamlessly to meet all demands, weaving together the past and present.
Anindita Sardar is head (design and curation), Taneira.