KHADI: THE FABRIC OF THE REVOLUTION

The beauty of Khadi is in the irregularities that are always revealed in a length of this ancient cloth - defects derived from human hands. It is this handmade quality, with its inherent story of human energy, that creates a romance the cloth connoisseur craves.



Because of Nature’s
approach to clothing and textiles is circular, whatever we take from the earth we intend for it to be returned with a footprint as minimal as humanly possible. Quality of the highest standard is essential to the ethos of the slow fashion movement. Khadi and handloom is the cloth chosen by us to work with as it aligns with our philosophy of humanity. Khadi exudes human energy, created by hand from field to designer, creating a sustainable economy throughout villages across rural India, a valuable resource of history, skill and tradition.

Khadi cloth - a natural fibre that is hand spun and hand woven - is a many-thousand-year-old craft that Mahatma Gandhi rekindled over one hundred years ago in India. He realised that Khadi was the answer to rural India’s financial independence and fought for the village economy stating: “It takes a village to make Khadi.”



Khadi represents jobs for all: it is the fabric of the revolution. It is an idea to unite a community and create a sustainable economic opportunity for everyone. In 1921, Gandhi returned to wearing only Khadi. He called it both the “fabric of Indian independence” and “sacred cloth” and championed and supported the resurgence of Khadi to relieve poverty in villages across the country. From this point the spinning and weaving of Khadi was elevated to an ideology of self-reliance and self-governance. It became a symbol of resistance and inextricably bound to Indian identity. It marked the start of a democracy in the true sense.

Unfortunately, the advent of the power loom in India in 1904 changed the textile industry forever and disrupted the country's social structure. Until then Indian society was relatively balanced, with minimal divisions between upper and lower classes. Now, the rich got richer, the poor got poorer. 
Power looms allowed fabric to be produced more efficiently and cheaply. To compete, handloom weavers had to match the prices. As a result, the viability of hand-looming collapsed and most weavers were forced to take up work within the power loom sector. Mass production and the booming demand from fast fashion systematically destroyed the handloom industry and made their craft redundant. Tens of thousands of artisans lost not only their art, craft and culture but also their dignity. Village communities, once sustained by their local textile industry, suffered heavy economic downturns. Many artisans were forced to leave the villages for the bigger cities to seek employment, leaving their families and communities behind.

In a world where slow fashion is regaining favour the resurgence of Khadi is set to revive artisanal traditions, skills and history, bringing vitality and sustainability back into rural Indian village communities. A new generation is being trained in the ancient traditions of hand-looming, dyeing and other disciplines needed in the production and supply chain of Khadi.
Khadi production provides work for many men and women: farmers, cotton pluckers, silk producers, spinners, weavers, thread cutters, washer people, ironers, folders, dyers, transporters and deliverers, plus many more employment opportunities.
Khadi has re-emerged as the fabric of the people, highly regarded for its durability, soft-feel and versatility. Fashion designers and consumers alike are drawn to its story, artisanal roots, sustainability and low carbon footprint.

The founder of Because of Nature, Kathy Williams muses on what Khadi means for her personally:

"There are no words to describe my elation at discovering the world of Khadi. It was like I had found my long lost family. I can stand for hours when I am ironing Khadi - looking at the weave and reading the stories within. You can see where the weaver felt peaceful; where they were interrupted; where someone else took over for a while and when they gave themselves over completely to the rhythm of the loom. Then there is the hand spun yarn within the weave, laden with texture and the priceless touch of human energy. Together those two elements - hand spun and hand loom - create the most incredible story of community. From the farmer that grew the cotton, the plucker who picked it, the chatter as all this was happening. The man who came to transport the cotton to the village, the spinners who came to gather their fibre to spin, again the chatter and life evolving around the yarn. Then off to the weaver and more people involved in this weaving house and the washerman waiting to gather the newly woven cloth to wash and finish it. Khadi is a cloth of the people, a cloth that takes a village to make. A cloth that holds a sacred spirit."



Read more about The Happy Hands project and its goal to invigorate Khadi production in rural India.

 

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