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Khadi The New Fabric Statement!

By Priyanka Swami

Let’s find out the cosmopolitan implications of the ‘sacred cloth’— the canvas for imaginative creations.

We talk of a wedding in superlative terms and rightly so, it merits your sharpest appearance as well. Dressing well has been of prime importance since the days of the Emperor’s new clothes and when it comes to your own wedding, no bargains!


Now the task of choosing the right outfits, the right colours, and the right fabrics is not at all a cakewalk. While we would say go for styles and silhouettes that are timeless, we would steer you straight to the modern entanglements of the Gandhian cotton— that are rustic and bohemian.


Khadi, as we know, is the warp and weft of our country, but it is by no means stuck in history. From being the unstylish hand spun fabric to being a part of wedding trousseau for a bride, Khadi’s ‘freedom fabric’ status is passé.


The Transition


While the Mahatma wanted his countrymen to spin their own cloth and shun the British imports, Khadi got its major boost in the 90s when high end designers started including the fabric in their work palette. One such example is Ritu Kumar’s first ever Khadi collection –Tree of Life— which she presented in 1990. This was one of the many moves that kick started the use of handloom and Khadi in the fashion circuit.
The revival of Khadi Bhandars in 2000 saw designers like Rohit Bal come forward and make Khadi more fashionable and affordable. As per the designer, “Khadi is the Indian alternative for linen. It is as comfortable and now, it is as fashionable.”



As Ayush Mehra, director, Study By Janak, puts it, “Who knew that a revolution started by Mahatma Gandhi symbolising his love for everything ‘Made in India’ would be in vogue 70 years hence. What was once considered a cheap fabric is now one of the most sought after fashion statements.”


The Fiber of Khadi


Khadi is a result of interlacement of handspun yarn and the soft twists lent by the hand gives the yarn certain hairiness that bestows supreme comfort to the wearer. The threads of the fabric are interlaced in a manner that they allow maximum air to permeate to body and are very soothing.


Ayush Mehra comments, “Khadi is primarily woven from Hemp and may also include silk, or wool, which are all spun into yarn on a spinning wheel called a charkha. It is a versatile fabric, cool in summer and warm in winter.”


On its fashion quotient, Dhruv Vaish, founder, The Dhruv Vaish Label, spells out, “Due to its nature, Khadi has a very unique texture and look which gives designers the opportunity to keep the garment simple, stylish and elegant. With just a little bit of detailing, the fabric is capable of transforming any ordinary garment into a great looking piece which not only appeals to the Indian customer but also to the global audience, since the international market for Khadi is growing many-folds.”



Supporting the fabric’s fashionable cause, Ayush Mehra says, “Khadi is a unique fabric that becomes better with age and washing. Since it comes in various colours these days, one can do screen and block printing on Khadi. It’s a good absorbent of colours and works best in creating an ethnic look. Its matte texture look comes out beautifully with subtle embellishments.”


He further adds, “As it is little stiff a fabric, straight silhouettes and well tailored looks complement Khadi the best. The fabric is the best pick for well structured ensembles. It is always recommended to add Khadi to parts of an outfit since the soft fabric lends liquidity to the overall look.”


Besides, Khadi is a low energy alternative to the carbon foot, representing a spiritual and sustainable way of life.


The New-Age Khadi


Needless to say, the palette has certainly come of age! From kurtas, pyjamas to bandhgalas and waistcoats, Khadi has found its way into the glamour of garbs.


We all know that there is nothing as classy as a kurta-churidar accented with a finely tailored Nehru jacket! And for that quintessential ethnic yet contemporary look, what can match a Khadi kurta paired with denims and Kolhapuri chappals!


Running down the memory lane, Designer Dhruv Vaish says, “Khadi was initially used to create simple kurtas or Nehru jackets, associated mainly with the politicians since that had become an unofficial uniform symbolising their connection with roots of India and with handicrafts industries of India.”


Speaking of the same, Ayush Mehra asserts, “Since the days of yore, the fabric has been used primarily by a certain sect of society—read elderly and small towns—but today it has seen a lot of transformation which suits the taste buds of today’s generation. It’s also become a fashion statement to wear this traditional fabric. Today, there are variations in colour tones, fabric usage, and treatment to fabric that makes it different and suits the modern sensibilities.”



Talking of modern sensibilities, we believe that wonders are worked with this unadulterated fabric, tailored into sherwanis and peplum jackets, making use of shades of ivory, buff and ecru.


Dhruv Vaish confirms, “Yes, it has turned into a fabric that is more versatile and unlike earlier, Khadi is now available in a variety of colours and prints making it more fun to wear casually or otherwise.”
He adds, “A lot of new qualities have been introduced with a mix of viscose, polyesters, etc making it cheaper, softer and sturdier than ever.”


On the similar tangent, Ayush Mehra speaks, “Designers are rocking the ramp with Khadi collections. Menswear sees a lot more scope to use this versatile fabric—from their cool evening wear in form of waistcoats to a traditional function in form of a bandhgala as well as Dogri sets with Khadi waistcoats look apt.”


Designer Nilesh Parashar who recently showcased his resort wear collection at the Gionee India Beach Fashion Week says, “The humble fabric, khadi wasn’t associated with luxury, especially wedding wear. It is fairly recently that some designers decided to push the envelope and transform Khadi into a luxury garment. The garment has been treated and also fused with other fabrics like silk to give it a richer and more comfortable look and feel.”



“Khadi in its modern avatar can be moulded into many silhouettes that complement both Indian and Western looks. I used it in creating a collection that was basically men’s silhouettes transforming them into women’s wear through deconstruction and draping to soften the look. The look is bordering on androgyny— feminine, with a touch of power, to go with my theme of empowering women. I used bold ethnic and western motifs and embroidery to give it the look of luxurious resort wear,” he adds.


The Spring-Summer Edge


Designer Aysuh Mehra feels, “Khadi is an excellent summer wear. It is organic and will keep the wearer cool. It’s a highly breathable material. Not only this, it is in vogue for sure and versatile enough to suit the sensibilities of all age groups.”


Dhruv Vaish comments that as a fabric, Khadi not only looks great but also stays crinkle less. He adds that it’s easy on one’s pocket and suits great for kurtas and shirts.


Decoding Your Look

(With inputs from designer Nilesh Prashar)


Engagement ceremony: I would love to dress the groom in an indigo-coloured achakan made out of Khadi with digital prints (our vintage frames) and blend of placement embroidery, balancing the attire perfectly. We can also team up the achkan with white coloured slim fit trouser and oxford shoes. In menswear, the most important thing is the buttons. So, handcrafted metal buttons with a fuchsia colour pocket square is the best way to complete the look.


Mehendi/ sangeet/ sagan: A long, printed Khadi sleeveless jacket dyed in two shades (blush pink to deep mustard), teaming up with a full sleeve silk kurta-churidar with woven mojris and vintage pocket watch will complete the attire.


Cocktail party: Metal zipped wine coloured Nehru jacket teamed with a short kurta and semi-flared breeches or metal zipped wine coloured Nehru jacket with a beige coloured cuff link shirt and mustard khaki trousers teamed with oxford shoes would complete the attire with a royal feel.


Wedding: An off white Khadi sherwani with flower motif thread work and gold thread embroidery on the collar would be the best pick for a groom-to-be. Also, the sherwani with beige or gold salwar can be teamed up with red and a beige ombre turban and jacquard mojari for a complete look.


Honeymoon: Soft Khadi shirts done in different ways like digital printing, shaded dying, tie n dye are very comfortable to wear yet give very classy and edgy look. They can be paired with linen shorts or trousers.

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