April 07, 2008

life in general: friendly khadi cotton

I started wearing Khadi-cotton shirts and trousers two years back and am now addicted to this fantastic cool fabric. In the heat and humidity of Bombay it is, in my view, the only sensible option before us for dressing up.

Anyway, 2-3 weeks back, I wrote something on Khadi-cotton in the magazine I work for. It gives further insight into Khadi cotton fabric.

Here it is:

Friendly Khadi

It is not exactly in vogue but definitely has the potential to fire the imagination of ecologically sensitive or practically-oriented corporate executives and managers. Hand-spun and hand-woven cotton fabric, or otherwise popularly known as Khadi fabric, is presently not a hot-selling item as far as office wear or formal wear is concerned. Objectively speaking, it is the lack of marketing of Khadi-cotton as a hep and stylish brand that is causing its absence from fashion-conscious corporate managers. In no small measure is also the association of Khadi fabric with politicians and government bureaucrats that puts off many.

But when current trendy designs and elegant colours are applied to Khadi-cotton fabric the results are so rewarding that it can open up closed minds. In the world of fashion designers who encompas in their work all kinds of wear including informal wear, party wear, ethnic wear and formal wear are very impressed with the results they get when they experiment with Khadi-cotton fabric. "Even in formal wear, Khadi-cotton fabric is elegant, understated and classy and works very well in workplaces where you would want to be very relaxed in your corporate attire," says Sabyasachi Mukherjee, a well-known fashion designer from Calcutta.

Formal trousers tailor-made from Khadi-cotton fabric and formal Khadi-cotton shirts either tailor-made or ready-made are the options before men. Suits, however, are not currently done in Khadi-cotton. "Due to its light weight you will not get the required finishing in suit trousers," says Nikasha Tawadey, an upcoming fashion designer from Bombay. But Bangladeshi designer Bibi Russell, who prefers to work with cottage industries, has already designed pin-striped suits using Khadi-cotton.

Women, for whom formal wear includes the traditional churidaar-kurta attire, have more options. Says Tawade, whose kurtis and chunis for women made from Khadi-cotton fabric are available in high-end boutiques in Bombay, "Considering our hot weather Khadi-cotton fabric is a viable option; in fact, world over, hand-woven fabrics are also a fashion statement."

Khadi-cotton is the coolest fabric one can get since the hand-woven cotton cloth allows easy flow of air through the fabric. Basically, the fabric breathes out the body heat, making the wearer more comfortable. In polyester-based attire the petroleum-chemical element in the fabric blocks the body heat from escaping making the wearer feel hot and uncomfortable.

Government-funded Khadi Gram Udyog Bhavan's Khadi Bhandar line of retail stores all over the country are the most easily accessible stores to purchase Khadi cotton fabric material that can then be stitched to your individual style from your preferred tailor. Boutiques and popular stores like Fab India, Anokhee and Khadiline are the other places where you can go to buy Khadi-cotton fabric.

At the high end, a nice colour Khadi-cotton material for a trouser will cost between Rs 125 and Rs 200 per metre. For 3-4 metres you will pay upto Rs 600-800 and add your tailor's charge of Rs 250-500, your trouser will cost you between Rs 900 and Rs 1,300. Costs for a high-end good-design and nice-colour Khadi-cotton shirt would be between Rs 500 and Rs 800. For women, at the highest range of Rs 175 per metre, the cost for a churidaar-kurta attire using 6-7 metres and factoring in tailor charges would be between Rs 800 and Rs 1,500. More innovative colours and designs will take the price above Rs 2,000 for men and women.

Using Khadi-cotton you avoid petroleum-made polyester fabrice and so you can also implement your sensitivity towards ecology every day in your workplace. Also, since Khadi means hand-woven you also encourage self-employment opportunities for skilled artisans and workers across rural India.


Screen Sifar said...

Those Khadi Gramudyog stores are great but if only they liasoned with experienced designers then the whole arrangement would revolutionize Khadi again.It's happening but not enough.

Rajesh said...

True. It is happening but not enough. But those of us who want to use Khadi cotton fabric need not be deterred to the extent of deciding not to use it. For all the limitations it is still the most eco-friendly and comfortable fabric. And if we do not get Khadi fabric with the designs of our liking we can always buy the plain-coloured ones and make do with them for the time being. And then keep checking the Khadi stores every 3-4 months to see if any new designs have come that may appeal to us.