Khadi is attracting small upcoming fashion labels who are exploring possibilities to reinvent the intricate handspun fabric and keep it relevant in an industry driven by experimentation.
With chic silhoutes and eyecatching designs, the appeal of the natural fabric, which now comes in a variety of beautiful colours has seen an upsurge, say designers.
"It isn’t too difficult to establish Khadi in niche and more expensive markets. However, the story is different for when it comes to cost-effective markets," says Astha Vashisth, founder and designer at Delhi-based Fayakun Design Studios.
Vashisht has made it her business to re-invent woolen khadi from the valley of Ladakh and retail it in refreshingly different silhoutes in colours that range from natural indigos and breezy whites. The store provides interesting combinations of reds and mustard as well.
Given the predominantly hot climate, Khadi is the perfect fabric for the country. The Cotton Rack, a newly founded Jaipur-based women’s wear label, has decided to retain the organic appeal of the fabric and produce garments that blends comfort, style and detailing.
The brand’s founder Vinayak Sharma, an alumni of NIFT says he wants to create khadi wear whose designs are as attractive as those from multi-national brands.
Laila Tyabji, founder of Dastkar, a Delhi-based NGO for craft says, "In my view Khadi ticks all the buttons as the global consumer becomes increasingly conscious of eco-friendly fabrics that have a low carbon footprint, are low cost, low maintenance, and handmade from natural materials that can breathe."
Noted names in the fashion industry Ritu Kumar, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Gaurang Shah showcase a wide vibrant range from bridal collections in khadi to traditional sarees with work of jamdani, zari and gota-patti among many more.
"Thanks to the eminent designers, Khadi has become popular worldwide. Fluidity of the fabric helps me work with Khadi," said Priyanjoli Basu, Founder of the 2012 label Priyanjoli.
Priyanjoli specializes in making Khadi Western garments like skirts, shirts, pants among others.
The founder of the 2001 (check) label "GAURANG" which works on personifying elegance and captivating the beauty of traditional handlooms and weaves, Gaurang Shah, feels very happy with the rise of khadi in various products and forms.
He says, "What is even more delightful is the varied twists we brought into khadi like reducing the count from 100 to 80 and giving it different colors and textures to enhance its look and appeal, has gone very well with the fashion consumers."
Talking about khadi as predominantly a white collection, he says designers and their weavers undertake various challenges to create myriad hues of khadi.
‘Gaurang’ has come out with khadi saris in purple and deep red. Some of his garments like off-shoulder flowy dresses with anarkali cuts, layered tunics and short tops teamed up with dhoti-style pants and the khadi jumpsuit with floral patterns have been showcased at international shows like Berlin Lavera Eco Fashion show.
"I designed a tree with branches, flowers and butterflies, woven along the length of the sari. A sari of this kind takes six months to weave," says the Hyderabad-based designer.
New innovations like these in recent years has helped put khadi among the most sought after piece for fashion shoppers.