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Khadi: The handspun, handwoven wonder is relevant again

Last evening, I overheard a little boy making elaborate plans with his grandfather for the summer holidays. The summers for us meant a no-rules, no-schedule, fun-filled month at our grandparents’ home. We all looked up to our grandfather for his self-discipline, large heartedness and of course, immense amounts of love. In fact, during India’s freedom struggle, like a lot of other Indians, my grandfather had given up the affluence of ‘textile mill’ made clothes and switched to Khadi! It was part of the ‘Be Indian, Buy Indian’ or the Swadeshi movement. The Swadeshi movement’s effects included an upsurge in the hand-spun and handmade handlooms of Bengal that later spread to other  parts of the country. Then, of course , India got its well-earned independence but somehow, Khadi, saw a decline in its popularity.

However, skip a few decades and, today, we have a different story to tell.  A growing affection of the young, environmentally conscious designer-makers and consumers  has led to new designs, new markets and buyers that take pride in the ‘Handmade’ and ‘Made in India’ label. For Khadi to regain its popularity, people need to know more about the fabric, its history and the rich legacy we Indians have been blessed with. It also needs to reach the masses, and the younger generation who would embrace and advocate it, if it was made ‘cool’ again and didn’t cost an arm and a leg!

Handloom vs. Khadi – what’s the difference?

While handloom and Khadi are both handmade, ‘Khadi’ is woven out of hand-spun yarn on handlooms as against the ‘handloom fabric’, which uses mill spun yarn but is woven on handlooms.

We, at Notjustashopper, were keeping our eyes and ears out, trying to find companies that use the richness of the hand-spun, handwoven ‘Khadi’creating end-products with modern sensibilities and silhouettes and voilà! we found some, just for you. Below are the labels that are working relentlessly to make it to your wardrobe. Have a read:

Red Sister Blue

A brand born with a vision to see ‘Khadi’ as part of the urban culture, a part of the “jeans-clad, iPhone gen-next urbanites’ style”.  Mumbai based Red Sister Blue is the brainchild of Nanda Yadav, Michael Grobe and Kaveri Sharma, who believe that their creation is a celebration of femininity and freedom, and has that versatility, that ‘pep’, to make it into your ‘cool wardrobe’ statement. Have a look at their creations…

White high-low Khadi dress for a fun day out by Red Sister Blue

White high-low dress for a fun day out; Sold by Red Sister Blue

Khadi checkered maxi dress - Sold by Red Sister Blue

Get this checkered maxi dress for an uber chic look – Sold by Red Sister Blue

blue Khadi tunic by Red Sister Blue

Pretty in a blue Khadi tunic; Sold by Red Sister Blue

Metaphor Racha

Bangalore based Ravi Kiran and Chandrasekhar, launched the label as an extension of their way of life, celebrating the spirit of ‘Khadi’. They believe that Khadi is not just another handmade fabric, but a thought! Their ‘About Us‘ page has their thoughts woven with the most beautiful words…a must read. And now, a look at their gorgeous collection…

khadi garments designed and made with Khadi by Metaphor Racha

A collection of elegantly styled garments by Bangalore based Metaphor Racha. Images via 

The colours and the prints! Stoles by Metaphor Racha

The colours and the prints! Stoles by Metaphor Racha ; Images via

The quilted khadi blouses by Metaphor Racha

Oh these quilted khadi blouses! Sold by Metaphor Racha ; Images via

Nature Alley 

To make Khadi an everyday fabric that can be worn by young and old alike, designer and activist Tara Aslam launched her label Nature Alley. She believes that Khadi is an ‘all-season fabric’ that can be worn comfortably in summers and winters alike. She makes beautifully designed clothes with trendy silhouettes and of course, using this magical fabric.

Contemporary styling in Khadi by Nature Alley

Contemporary styling by Nature Alley – Sold by Nature Alley

Khadi holds a lot of promise, even in the drapes, cuts and the flow of the silhouettes

Khadi holds a lot of promise, even in the drapes, cuts and the flow of the silhouettes – Sold by NatureAlley 

A renowned textile scholar and founder of TaanBaan, Rta Kapur Chisti writes, “Khadi needs a vision not because of Gandhi, but because we may be the only country in the world with the ability to create a completely organic, eco-viable, luxury fabric.”

I know you are as much in love with this wonderful fabric as I am. ‘Khadi’ seems to be riding a wave; from its decimation a few years ago in the wake of modern living and fashion to where it is today, where quite a few of us seem to be wanting to own creations in ‘Khadi’.  More needs to be done, and for me, making it a part of my everyday wardrobe would be the beginning. Let’s together make ‘Khadi’ relevant again!

XO, Nupur

Cover credits: Red Sister Blue and Metaphor Racha