Models walking the ramp for Abraham & Thakore’s khadi collection on Day 2 of the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring-Summer 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Abraham and Thakore)
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Make Khadi Great Again: Why Khadi Needs A Design Intervention 

Thoughtful dressers look inward and think sustainability and social responsibility. And when looking outward, they think silhouette, strong design detail and a sophisticated aesthetic. And guess what? Khadi, the earthy fabric that comes from Indian soil and carries on it a strong imprint of our history, ticks both the boxes.

For when the handspun, eco friendly fabric is manipulated by designers, the results can be striking to say the least. Brands working with khadi are introducing new designs in the market to appeal to the millennial generation. There’s Red Sister Blue, a women’s wear brand based in Mumbai, whose mission is to make khadi fashionable to the “ripped jeans, crop top wearing generation”.

A Red Sister Blue tunic. (Photo Courtesy: Red Sister Blue)
A Red Sister Blue tunic. (Photo Courtesy: Red Sister Blue)

Red Sister Blue works with khadi weaver clusters in Murshidabad and Gujarat to get its material.



A paired khadi skirt and top. (Photo Courtesy: Red Sister Blue)
A paired khadi skirt and top. (Photo Courtesy: Red Sister Blue)

The brand’s owner, Nanda Yadav, who has been wearing khadi since she was a teen, says a natural progression for her brand is to get a khadi mark, something for which her brand has already applied for.

You see, owing to its symbolic nature, Khadi production in India is highly centralised. Which means brands that sell khadi products or garments must apply for a Khadimark Regulation Certificate. And although the KVIC website says getting the tag is just a 45-day process, those who are applying for the tag have other things to say.

AN Roy, a former Director General of Police for Maharashtra who now heads the non-profit Vandana Foundation says,

If you want to make khadi, you can’t use it as a label till the time you get a license from the Khadi Village Industries Commission. Without misuse or corruption, we must make it easier for people to deal in khadi. Khadi has the potential to employ the largest number of people, especially in the rural space. We need to give independence to khadi and promote entrepreneurship in this space.
AN Roy

Just a few days ago, Fabindia was sent a legal notice by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, a state run body that monitors the sale and business of all khadi products to stop selling clothes in the name of khadi. In its notice, KVIC has alleged that FabIndia continuing to use the word khadi is an illegal act and amounts to indulging in unfair trade practices.

But why is Lutyen Delhi's favourite fashion statement in trouble?

According to the KVIC Act of 1956 and the Khadi Mark Regulations Act , of 2003, “no product can be sold as khadi without the Khadi Mark tag. And all private brands or producer of khadi must buy khadi from a government-cleared khadi institution.

Tara Aslam, whose Bangalore-based brand Nature Alley makes conscious khadi clothing, believes khadi cannot be hijacked by the government. Although she says there must be quality checks and maybe even a craftmark certificate by an independent organisation, she believes the government shouldn’t be the sole custodian of khadi and that it must give space to designers and brands for intervention in the khadi space.

Many designers are introducing interesting iterations to khadi. For its Spring Summer 2017 collection, designer duo Abraham and Thakore worked with the modest fabric and uplifted its glamour quotient by using swathes of gold and silver.



A model walks the ramp in a khadi sari for designers Abraham & Thakore on Day 2 of the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring-Summer 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Abraham and Thakore)
A model walks the ramp in a khadi sari for designers Abraham & Thakore on Day 2 of the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring-Summer 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Abraham and Thakore)


A model walks the ramp in a khadi sari for designers Abraham & Thakore on Day 2 of the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring-Summer 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Abraham and Thakore)
A model walks the ramp in a khadi sari for designers Abraham & Thakore on Day 2 of the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring-Summer 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Abraham and Thakore)


A model walks the ramp in a khadi sari for designers Abraham & Thakore on Day 2 of the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring-Summer 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Abraham and Thakore)
A model walks the ramp in a khadi sari for designers Abraham & Thakore on Day 2 of the Amazon India Fashion Week (AIFW) Spring-Summer 2017. (Photo Courtesy: Facebook/Abraham and Thakore)

Even designer Nikasha Tawadey Khemka, for her Noor collection, reinterpreted khadi to create a bohemian aesthetic. With layered, off shoulder blouses embellished with antique beads and cowry shells, she has made the women wearing it look modern yet rooted firmly in tradition.

One only hopes that the KVIC’s insistence on exerting tight control over khadi doesn’t muzzle the creativity of designers working with the fabric.