The importance of Khadi fabric has remained the same even after 74 years of India’s independence in 1947. Khadi is not only a symbol of Indian textile heritage but a symbol of our freedom struggle.
Khadi, also known as “Khaddar", is a handwoven fibre made from cotton and is manufactured in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
It all started when the ‘Swadeshi Movement’ began in 1905, when Indians started boycotting all foreign goods. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of our nation, encouraged all Indians to boycott British textiles and brought an alternative for it - indigenous Khadi fabric.
Through the movement, Indians learned to weave and wear an indegenius fabric. Gandhi ji believed this will contribute to the development of Indian nationalism. According to Bal Gangadhar Tilak, and Lala Lajpat Rai, it was training in ‘self-determination’, ‘self-help’, and ‘self-reliance'.
Gandhi ji said, “If we have the ‘khadi spirit’ in us, we would surround ourselves with simplicity in every walk of life. The ‘khadi spirit’ means infinite patience. For those who know anything about the production of khadi, know how patiently the spinners and the weavers have to toil at their trade, and even so must we have patience while we are spinning the thread of Swaraj.”
In 1925, the All India Spinners Association was established and it aimed to produce, promote and sell Khadi. This organisation has been working to improve Khadi production and working to generate employment opportunities for Indian weavers.
In 1957, the Indian government established the ‘Khadi, Village and Industries Commission (KVIC). It was earlier called the ‘All India Khadi and Village Industries Board’.
This commission is working towards strengthening the Khadi production techniques, supplying raw material to the producers, checking the quality of the fabric, and is looking after the marketing of Khadi products.
How did Khadi become 'fashion'?
The journey of Khadi as a fashion statement began in the early 90s'. The KVIC in 1989 organised the first Khadi fashion show in Bombay, now called Mumbai, Maharashtra, where more than 80 styles of Khadi garments were presented.
In 1990, Ritu Beri, the country's one of the oldest fashion designers and an entrepreneur showcased her first Khadi collection at the ‘Tree of Life’ show in the craft museum of Delhi. She turned out to be the carrier of this fabric into the fashion industry and now is an advisor at KVIC to help Khadi climb the staircase of global fashion.
Currently, where many fashion designers are pushing the fashion industry to move towards sustainability, Khadi is one fabric they can rely on.
Khadi is an eco-friendly fabric with the potential to provide comfortable feels and can be worn in any season. After all, comfort is what we crave now when it comes to fashion!
Current status of Khadi fashion
Today, Khadi fabric is at its pinnacle. It is not restricted to light colours unlike earlier. Its clothes are present in bright colours and soft texture.
Khadi fashion has transformed from traditional wear like shawl, kurta, dhoti, scarf, pants to modern fashion staples like tops, denim, pants, jackets, footwear, etc.
Many renowned fashion designers of India - Rohit Bal, Anju Modi, Payal Jain, Rajesh Pratap Singh, Manish Malhotra have included Khadi outfits in their collections in the last few years.
With the rising talks around sustainable fashion in the industry, Khadi is soon to get the global recognition it deserves.