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A Chronicle of Handspun KHADI, the Signature Fabric of India

A Chronicle of Handspun KHADI, the Signature Fabric of India

Khadi is an emblem of Indian textile heritage. Its India’s signature fabric backed by an incredible history and a record-breaking 50, 000 crore industry worth. For 100 years and more, Khadi has been inspiring and amazing people worldwide, and has evolved from being a namesake textile to an elaborately woven legacy of our country.

Tracing the Roots of Khadi

Whenever we hear of Khadi, visions of Mahatma Gandhi and Swadeshi Movement conjures up in our minds. It has played a significant role during Gandhi’s struggle for freedom and Non-Violence Movement. For a very long time, this fabric has been associated with country’s independence struggle and politics; even today, after nearly seven decades since India gained independence, Khadi is still shinning bright in the spotlight. Contemporary Indie designers and ace clothing labels are insistent on using pure, preservative-free, organic products, like Khadi: it would be both sustainable and bring in aesthetics to life. True to the core, it is a fabric with purpose though redefined.

The word Khadi is derived from ‘Khaddar’, which means handspun and handwoven. While mainly they are manufactured from cotton, they can also be developed from silk and woolen yarn respectively. 

The Process of Weaving

The weaving method of Khadi is downright simple and traditional. It is manufactured in two steps: first the fiber is converted into yarn using spinning wheels (better known as Charkha) and then the yarn is woven into a fabric with the help of looms. The entire process is performed with hands with no usage of electricity, which is quite incredible in this age of technology and globalization.

In detail, the procedure starts from harvesting cotton in the fields, from where it is brought in and cleaned. A comb is used to remove the seeds and separate the fibers. Then the process of ‘carding’ sets off, from where we get the final fibers, which is also called slivers. Next, these slivers are inserted into traditional spinning wheels, from where fibers are spun into yarn. Finally, the output is woven, dyed and sold by artisans and merchandisers.  

The Transition: From Freedom to Fashion

No more a poor man’s cloth, Khadi received an eccentric twist from an army of contemporary designers. Once it was a symbol of India’s hard-earned independence, but now it’s the baby of the indie fashion stalwarts and clothing brands.

"Khadi has come to represent a handmade-in-India product of value and pride. And while it continues to be a symbol of freedom, it also represents an evolving India - the best of India's past endures in this ancient weave, yet it embraces elements of contemporary India to find a new synthesis and relevance," says designer Deepika Gehani.

Latest weaving techniques and modern, eco-friendly fibers are in the limelight. They add a fresh touch to the age-old fabric of India. What started as a mere initiative for Non-Violence movement by Gandhi is now an iconic fabric of modern India and the world altogether. Eco-friendly, rural empowerment and a sustainable future are now the new slogans associated with Khadi. It’s now that Khadi has rolled into the popular genre from an elite society – it’s finding prominence and acceptance, after being backed by veteran and newbie designers, alike.



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