Khadi: From fabric of freedom to chic fashion

By Trisha Mukherjee New Delhi, Aug 14 (PTI) Once the fabric that spun the freedom yarn and now the stuff of contemporary fashion, the humble khadi has come a long way since it became a symbol of revolt against the British in 1918.

Khadi earned itself a place in history when Mahatma Gandhi announced the decision to boycott foreign cloth and urged Indians to spin their own yarn during the Swadeshi movement.

Exactly a century later, khadi is making yet another statement — that of contemporary, comfortable and chic fashion.

The hand spun coarse cloth, which was largely worn as straight fit garments, has evolved into a versatile fabric that lends itself beautifully to an array of silhouettes — from shirts and dresses to jackets and palazzo pants, and even wedding wear.

“Khadi is now trendy and sets the cash registers ringing,” said Sachin Kharbanda, MD of Lakshita Fashions, a fashion brand that creates ethnic, western and Indo-Western designs for contemporary women.

According to him, the fabric has gained a strong foothold in the organic fashion movement garnering a certain class appeal, and is now emerging as a popular alternative to georgette, chiffon and net.

To get a softer version of the erstwhile coarse yarn, the fabric is often blended with silk, lycra, cotton and other man-made eco-fibres.

Rupal Dalal of JD Institute of Fashion Technology explains the blending is necessary to improve the properties of the original fabric, and also to make it softer.

“Cow dung and silicone are used as softening materials. Value addition is given by hand painting, printing, and surface ornamentation techniques,” she said.

Dalal’s favourite silhouette in khadi these days is jackets.

“Jackets with asymmetrical cuts, long line cuts, and lapel jackets make for an eclectic fusion of traditional and modern look,” she said.

But it is khadi’s agreement with Indian climates that has led to its resurgence as a comfort fabric.

“The fabric is light and airy. It has a unique property of keeping the wearer cool in summers and warm during the winters,” said Ayushi Gudwani, founder and CEO of FableStreet.

The online portal that makes tailored-fit office wear for women offers designs with minimal details and structured outlines in the form of khadi dresses, trousers and jackets.

Giving a luxuriously stylish edge to the fabric is noted Indian fashion designer Sandeep Khosla, best known for infusing Indian craftsmanship with European tailored silhouettes.

Khadi finds a place in both his pret and couture labels — GULABO and Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla respectively.

“For us it isn’t merely comfort wear, it is a heavenly and cherished canvas for our couture too,” Khosla said.

While the former features easy-breezy oversized dresses and tops as fusion wear, the other has intricately embroidered and embellished ensembles as bridal wear.

“Every garment we create with khadi is an innovation because it is original design. But working with it as occasion and wedding wear is the most satisfying. It is seeing the old through new eyes,” the designer said.

With khadi being used for western wear and ethnic, it is becoming fabric of choice for several women.

Like Delhi-based Bhavya Durgesh Nandini, who said wearing it has become “kind of unique”.

“Not many people our age wear it because they don’t know about it. But I like khadi because of how it looks and feels,” the 23-year-old said.

For Patrali Ghosh, a professor at Calcutta University, choosing khadi is beyond just fashion.

“I love wearing khadi kurtas and sarees. The fabric is immensely comfortable, and there is of course the history attached to it,” said the 50-year-old. PTI TRS

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