NEW DELHI – Khadi will always remain an icon in India and fabric was the centerpiece of last month’s FDCI x Lakme Fashion Week, with its runway translation putting sustainability, creativity and a sense of nationalism at the center of the scene.
The focus also opened up the potential for fabric internationally, with French designer Mossi Traoré showing his vision of khadi in different versions in blends of cotton, wool and silk.
“It’s a cliché to call it a fabric of freedom,” Sunil Sethi, president of the Fashion Design Council of India, told WWD. “The rest of the world may not understand that this is a fabric of freedom, or of Mahatma Gandhi. But they will surely understand its sustainability, its hand-woven, hand-made strengths and, above all, its versatility. Now there are khadi accessories, so you can have khadi shoes, khadi in many variations and combinations. “
Sethi was referring to the fact that Gandhi had encouraged every Indian to weave their own khadi during the country’s freedom struggle, which culminated in independence from British colonial rule in 1947.
Describing Mossi’s love for India and her interest in the market, she said: “Khadi works with minimalist designers. It is the first time that an international designer who has worked on it has participated in a fashion week “.
Jaspreet Chandok, head of Rise Fashion and Lifestyle, joint organizers of the event, stressed that khadi has been an important part of the evolution of the fashion week.
“Before, sustainability was for a certain type of designer. It now integrates much more seamlessly and you have all kinds of designers who may not be completely sustainable in their ethics but want to experiment with sustainable fibers on the way. The intent is that the sustainability narrative eventually begins to have global conversations. This is something we will work on as the world opens up more, ”she said.
Rise Worldwide is part of Reliance Ltd., which acquired IMG’s stake in Lakme Fashion Week in 2019.
Mossi was an ideal choice for global conversation given his knowledge of Bollywood, understanding of Indian culture and choice of fabric: on a previous trip to India he went shopping for a khadi kurta to wear to a wedding in Paris . “Nobody but me had a dress like that,” she told WWD.
His khadi collection has had its own skirmishes with destiny: the fabric sent to Paris in January for his show was lost and the replacement fabric arrived just in time to start the collection.
“When I was a student I always dreamed of India; I studied Rohit Bal, Ritu Beri, Narendra Kumar. I was inspired by John Galliano, but I was very focused on the work of Indian designers. Today fashion is a global market. With the Internet you can reach people in different countries, with China, India, today fashion is more open “, said Mossi.
The khadi show on the second day of fashion week highlighted the versatility of the fabric. While the first segment belonged to Mossi, the second part included five Indian designers: Abhishek Gupta, Anavila, Anju Modi, Charu Parashar and Rina Dhaka.
Rina Dhaka, whose collection exuded a glamor rarely associated with khadi, said her work – which used ropes, beads, piping and thread – has taken on a life of its own. “Yes, you don’t see khadi and glamor, but it’s possible; there is nothing more sustainable than these fabrics, “she said.
“Ironically, ‘touch’ became a fear during COVID-19, but touch is also a prasad [an offering to the gods], what we give in temples. Khadi is born from the fingers of the weavers, many hands have touched it before she reaches the model. In my eyes, touch is the therapeutic part of clothing. The journey of the garment is part of what it gives to the person wearing it: it is a sustenance fabric; it is what the Mahatma claimed; it’s about self-confidence: it’s not about fighting for freedom now, but about uplifting those who make it. The growing demand will also help to raise the price ”.
His goal was to show that discrepancies and flaws are part of true beauty, “because it’s not a flawless fabric,” Dhaka explained.
Fashion week itself has also been reinvented in various ways – after two years of digital and partly fictional shows – making its first fully live event since the outbreak of the pandemic. It combined the strengths of two separate fashion weeks in India: Mumbai-based Lakme Fashion Week and Delhi-based India Fashion Week.
“It’s no less about Lakme Fashion Week coming to Delhi, and more about Delhi hosting the joint country event,” said Jaspreet Chandok. “And an openness on all fronts: letting the designer decide how they want to do business and offer them the best platform”.