-By Dwijendra Kumar
New Delhi (NVI): When we remember Mahatma Gandhi for waging war against the British for independence of the country, we are also reminded of Khadi, the fabric he thought could bind the whole nation together and make the people self-reliant economically.
The very survival of the traditional Indian art of weaving of khadi which has been a source of living for lakhs of artisans for centuries was threatened once the British encouraged the supply of foreign mill-made cloths in the country. The British who were ruling over the country wanted to serve the interest of their own country this way. However, Gandhiji quickly realised the nefarious designs of the British and exhorted the countrymen to boycott foreign clothes and wear clothes made of Khadi only.
Khadi continues to occupy an important place in the wardrobes of people who wear it for comfort and elegance. Mill-made fabrics which r cheaper and available in a number of designs, have posed a serious threat to popularity of Khadi as also livelihood of lakhs of artisans. And so serious efforts have been made to produce Khadi in a variety of textures, designs and colours. Now Khadi is being blended with other fabrics such as silk, denim etc. Some of the leading designers too are making chic Khadi outfits.
According to Prof. Garima Singh, Deputy Director, Amity School of Fashion Technology and an award-winning Post Graduate student of NIFT New Delhi having 20 years of veritable experience as Fashion Designer and Fashion Educator, post-independence Khadi remained as the accepted choice of the masses. The fervor though gradually began to lessen as time passed. With the passage of time, Khadi seemed to get lost in the glitz and glamor of the world of fashion and efforts were made to communicate Khadi as a fashion product through involvement of prominent designers and design students.
It is through the relentless efforts of the Government of India along with organizations like KVIC that the humble hand-spun hand-woven khaddar has come a long way from being perceived as the choice of politicians and the poor to gather accolades at a global level as a fashion product. Efforts have been made in the past few decades to reposition Khadi as a fashion brand and while the road is long, Khadi is permeating the wardrobes of the fashion-conscious masses through endorsement by the leading designers & designer brands.
“My journey with Khadi began more than 2 decades ago as one of the initial designers to be empaneled for design intervention for Khadi through Khadi and Village Industries Commission and the National Institute of Design quickly grew into a passion for one of the most sustainable, diverse, and iconic brand ‘Khadi’. Khadi has been an inherent part of my collections as designer as well as a consumer, ” adds Prof Garima Singh.
Some other designers who have presented collections comprising khadi outfits on fashion runways include Payal Jain, Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal, Rajesh Pratap Singh etc.
According to Khadi and Village Industries Commission, its turnover crossed 74000 crore in 2018-19 registering a massive increase of 145 per cent since 2014-15. Further, there has been increase of 62 per cent in Khadi production during the period beginning 2014 and end 2019. While 103.22 million sq metres of Khadi were manufactured in 2014-15, its production increased to 170.80 million square meters in 2018-19. In production of textiles too, share of Khadi almost doubled during this period.
No wonder then, Khadi has evolved as a fashion statement from merely being a symbol of struggle against the British for independence. Its future as a designer fabric too seems bright.