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  • Prasantt Ghosh

Khadi- The Mahatma's Fabric


It has been through time immemorial that we have seen the evolution of textiles. The wheel of time rolled by as did the spinning wheel of Gandhi - little did he know the dichotomous interpretations it invoked when he said in 1920 in Young India, "I present the spinning wheel on which depends India's economic salvation". Many types of fibre, over the years, have been used for weaving fabrics like cotton, linen, wool and silk and even today, the most important natural fibres are used for this purpose.


Fibre must possess certain qualities to help man to weave it – it should be flexible, long, strong, elastic and it should fold properly when made into cloth. Khadi spells comfort and its USP is that it is porous, cool and absorbent when worn in the scorching summer. India has emerged as a major player in the fashion industry on the global map.


It has its own Hemant Trivedi, Ritu Kumar, Ravi Bajaj, Satya Paul, Sunit Varma, J.J.Valaya, Ritu Beri, Rohit Bal, Jatin Kotcher to compete with the international names like Donna Karan, Giorgio Armani, Coco Channel and Zoran.Gianni Versace, the renowned designer also drew inspiration from Indian ethnic designs. India traditionally posseses a variety of styles, myriad ways of dressing and unique craftsmen capable of churning out unimaginablewares.


While it is the mainstay fabric of India, it’s also a 21st century fabric.

Khadi is one of the most versatile of fabrics. It is comfortable to wear in a climate such as ours. Since casual chic is now becoming the mood, if embellished properly, khadi can make a statement of its own, even as part of a wedding trousseau. Khadi takes to contours easily. When used for contemporary ensembles , it can give a modern look make women feel smart and confident.


Khadi is a handspun and handwoven fabric made in India out of natural fibres like cotton, silk and wool. It may be a mix of any two or all yarns. Given Indian climatic conditions, this fabric is very comfortable to wear. It breathes….Air can pass through easily… During the freedom movement, one of the most successful programmes was the boycott of foreign good cloth. Charkhas’ were popularized on a wide scale and khadi became the uniform of the national movement. Post independent India, khadi has been much used.

Today many Indian designers are using the traditional weaves and patterns of this cloth and look upon khadi as the jewel of all fabrics. In every household of India and international consciousness of looking at environmental friendly fabrics, the khadi trend is slowing taking over from home linen to fashion accessiories to carpets and shawls. It is beautifully woven khadis ranging from the beautiful shawls of Kashmir to the dhakis from West Bengal ‘Pochampalli’of the south, ‘chikankari’ from lucknow, ‘Patola’ from Gujrat, ‘lehenga, from Rajasthan tell a story. The emotional impact of weavers and spinners brings about an interesting aspect of the textile history of India.


This handmade, eco-friendly product today co-exists with modern spinning and weaving Mills and has the potential to make a place for itself in the international textile scene.

Khadi is all about the potential of natures energies, and how the dynamics of our finger movements can enable the mind and the spirit that create with nature.

Khadi is a natural fabric and unique because it is made with hand spun yarns, whether they are silk, wool or cotton. Due to the nature of the hand process , the fabrics woven from these yarns have an uneven appearance, which gives them their individuality .

The rustic, no-machine look of the fabric is both sophisticated and bohemian and is associated with the intelligentsia and the freedom movement in India. This is the reason it is popular.


Khadi as a fabric needs to be presented in a better manner. By mixing it with synthetic Yarns ,its look can be varied and it can become more user-friendly. Styling changes and an image change is certainly going to increase its popularity The collections have been both varied in style and embellishment, bhagalpur khadi silks and a variety of handloom weaves, including the finest in the 300-500 count cotton khadi, the fabric of which can actually be passed through a ring.

Whenever I design and use khadi as my fabric, I have kept both the style and the intrinsic properties of the fabric in mind varied weights and counts produce richness in khadi. The treatment of this textural richness is the core of my collection, which relies on the minimal look and aesthetics of handmade fabrics. I have essentially used two types of Khadi.


A second line is made of various weaves in a softer, lighter quality of natured coloured khadi. The variation of the weave is what highlights the simple essemble .The Metallic additions to the tunic are intended to capture the look of gold and silver embellishments once seen on royal costumes of the erstwhile princely states of India


Khadi is for all seasons…Epitomosing a cool , casual look till a few years ago, khadi has become the centre of attraction even in marriages and parties. Sporting an invidualistic look, it has a distinct character and is a versatile fabric which speaks for itself. Fashion is a statement of our life-style encompassing all age groups and segments of the society .It transcends economic barriers and touches the poor and the rich alike. Fashion is simply what is preferred and is in vogue. Clothing is subject to scrutiny and comes in the folds of fashion first.


Clothing today, is a statement of our economic abilities, tastes and preferences hence the personality. Human ingenuity and individual creativity has lead to many revolutionary changes in the way we dress .The early application of classic blue jeans the rage was aimed at the California Gold Rush Miners over a century ago. However, now we have designer jeans.


In fashion designing the color, weave design and texture of the fabric plays a very important role. The cut and the construction, the trimming, and the accessories, the buttons and the zippers-all play significant roles in the creation of the final allurement in the outfit. Attractiveness and appropriateness of the colors, the fibres and the finish contributes equally to the success of a collection designed for a specific season. Future planning period, of fashion trends, has shrunk from earlier 18 months to 4-6 months ahead. Trend forecasting has become more specific not only in terms of seasonal trends but also regional and consumer -segment specific. In India also we have progressed to forecasting trends even for segments such as Knitswear, Jeanswear etc., encompassing all fibres, groups and applications. Marketing is a total system of business activities designed to plan, price, promote and distribute bond satisfying goods and services to present the political consumers,. The total process of marketing is now beginning to be pledge to the products and services of the fashion industries the result is called fashion marketing. Fashion merchandising prefers to the planning require having the right fashion oriented merchandise in the right quantities at the right prices and with the right sales promotion.


Last decade has seen major developments towards mobilising the industry. The Indian government established the National Institute of Designing at Ahmedabad (NID) and a National Institute at Delhi for fashion technology (NIFT) which in the last 10 years has branched out to Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Calcutta and Hyderabad. In the private sector Pearl Academy at Delhi and Indian Institute of fashion Technology(IIFT), Sophia, Mumbai are also contributing considerably.

Indian consumers have become as demanding as their western counterparts when it comes to quality. The industry needs to shift the production lines according to demand rather than supply.


The designers, fashion forecasters, trade show organizers, fashion publications, fashion institutes, the textile or garment industries, all need to come together to create a meaningful global fashion movement in India. We can and we will attain global acclaim.


The rustic, no machine look of the fabric is both sophisticated and bohemian. The rich Khadi silk dress materials that were available in limited and basic colours have gone vibrant and are sold in every conceivable colour. Ensembles printed, embroidered with or without beads and mirrorwork , or khadi silk added with precious stones and jewellery

Have made khadi a very good material in itself for designing. It adds to its very ‘’pleasing to the eye texture’’.


Sherwanis, kurtas, short kurtis, pants with zardosi, beads work, thread work in mukta khadi are fit for winter while brides can wear khadi silk woven saris also for the same season ,. Khadi has colours that suit the Indian complexion and the best part it is that it can be worn ten months of the year without being called out of fashion.

Varieties available in khadi now are tussar silk saries, khadi silk dress material,Dhotis , kurtas, coats, wraparounds and trousers. The in thing today is khadi for weddings and ceremonies symbolizing the atmosphere of richness and gaiety.

This outfit is in mukta khadi with embellished embroidery. The borders are ivory colored and the entire theme is ‘love’.

The true potential of khadi has still not been tapped, both from the industry as well as the commercial angle. There’s much to be explored… because khadi by itself is a very unique product.


Being handwoven and handspun the length that you get in one go is between 12 to 16 yards. And even in this one length, the texture of the fabric varies. At some places you find the fabric woven very loosely and at others, it,s very tight. The result no two garments out of khadi fabric will have the same weave no two garments are similar, this is its unique quality.


Khadi is 100 per cent eco - friendly. It is warm in winters and cool in summers. However, we need to explore more avenues for this fabric. Traditional khadi costume continues , but innovations are required keeping market trends in mind. Khadi wears off after a season or two if blended with lycra, colours would last longer and the life of the fabric would also increase.


As a great option for summer weddings, khadi mulmul should be considered even without embellishments, because the fabric in itself feels luxurious and rich. Somehow we carry the impression that khadi is cheap. However, fine varieties such as mulmul are more expensive than a lot of other fabrics and have limited produce per year. If you want more, you specially order for more. Then again people have another mental block…why spend so much on khadi.

It is all about how you style the fabric…that makes the difference. You can use it for casual or formal wear, during pregnancy and even yoga…or just about any circumstances.

Khadi silk lungi pant with wool yarn stitch work.Khadi spells comfort and its USP is that it is porous, cool and absorbent when worn in the scorching summer. While it is the mainstay fabric of India.


This season I have developed a new look khadi with shot effect and slubs on it. The Collection consists of a range of elegant ensembles stylized in a contemporary manner.


Khadi is one of the most versatile of fabrics. It is comfortable to wear in a climate such as ours. Since casual chic is now becoming the mood, if embellished properly, khadi can make a statement of its own, even as part of a wedding trousseau. Khadi takes to contours easily. When used for contemporary ensembles , it can give a modern look make women feel smart and confident.

Khadi skirt with gold khadi print and appliqué border worn with a chinkari blouse and thick khadi jacket embellished with zardosi.


Khadi is a broad outline there are innumerable fabrics under this umbrella. In its raw , natural state, it is a starched fabric, beige in colour and crisp. We stereotype it as meant for men’s kurtas. However, its possibilities are enormous and we have used very different types of khadi in our collections.


Khadi works well both from a designer’s as well as from a commercial perspective. It sells well because people find it different. We have a lot of NRI’s and foreigners using khadi other than Indians. Our khadi outfits have a traditional outlook but are cut to suit the comfort of western wear. For, instance, we put together different crafts of different areas in India and then sell in a London. Our khadi jackets are very popular in Italy too. The natural look of khadi goes well with the contemporary look.


The look is modern and multi folk. Khadi, which draped the humble freedom fighters in the days of yore, is today flaunted by the coolcats making fashion statements. All the way used by politicians to invoke the radically idealistic image it symbolised (by default), it took a handful of designers to bring it out of the downmarket rut. It has become the darling fabric of some designers who swear by Khadi and others use it of and on.

Apart from the designer innovations in Khadi which sometimes cost a fortune their is the KHADI & VILLAGE INDUSTRIES COMMISSION a statutory body under the Ministry of Industry, Government of India which promotes Khadi. The commission which was created by an act of Parliament has opened several outlets all over the country to sell sewn & complete to raw and semi-finished textile materials of Khadi along with some other small and cottage industries wares

The fall and behavior of this natural fabric is unique and offers multitude possibilities of creative expression. It responds very effectively as a base to different textures, printing techniques, embroideries, embellishments and colours from orange, maroon and black to pinks and blues you name it. All value additions done on it stand out. Each season we should use khadi as it is an evergreen fabric.

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