As a student at the National Institute of Design, David Abraham chose khadi for his diploma project. The designer, known for using simplest hand weaves to express complex ideas, is again using khadi for his women’s wear collection at the Amazon India Fashion Week this Thursday. Abraham wants to prove that khadi can have multiple identities. Its transformation from a ‘limited’ fabric to something vibrant and functional is in sync with the international look.
“This time it is very much an India story. I had interest in khadi right from my student days at NID. What is special about khadi is that it is spun into yarn by hand. The charkha is used. The process is slow but the end product is more beautiful than the machine spun yarn. Of course, khadi is more labour intensive; requires manual skills to get the texture but for me this is attractive for it is hand done and has a lot to do with sustainability,” says David.
While speaking at his studio in Noida, David ferrets out a gold skirt to illustrate his point. It is made of khadi but looks like a jazzy evening wear outfit to emphasise that David and his partner Rakesh Thakore can make the fabric versatile.
“Gold is all about bling, shininess. But this skirt is deceptive; nobody can make out that it is made of khadi. It is the blingiest outfit we have,” says Abraham known for his subtle style. “It is like a visual joke, tongue in cheek. Here we are playing with perception. This is a party wear but not over the top. The khadi we used here is rough So some part of the skirt has taken the print, some has not. That is the beauty of handmade look. We are showcasing how khadi can work with embroidery and appliqué.” ”
The duo handwriting makes their work distinct. “Our collection is very much about now. Story is about khadi for today’s generation. I am putting forward the idea that we can give khadi a new narrative. It can be built around mundu of Kerala or veshti of Tamil Nadu, which has narrow border. I am trying to make veshti popular among women here.”
The duo has taken softer pieces of khadi to make blouses and pants. “Khadi kurta will go with silk pyjama and khadi handbags. To show how khadi can look beautiful and not monotonous we have used large bold graphic pattern, simple lines and shapes,” says Abraham.
As it is a fragile fabric, one cannot do much embroidery on khadi.“But then this is the nature of the yarn. We have finest khadi woven in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal. In Rajasthan there is coarse khadi which we have used on coats. We have made khadi beautiful with floral and geometric patterns. Calligraphy in Devnagiri is made to look decorative. We want to surprise everyone with our treatment .”
No discussion on khadi could be complete without Mahatma Gandhi. “In a sense, he showed us the direction which discerning fashion lovers are now following,” says Abraham. “Khadi would not have been where it is today without him. He made it into a political and economic statement. However, my collection is a tribute to all those anonymous hands spinning the yarn sitting in some village. Nobody looks at those unknown makers.”
Abraham wants people to understand the bigger message behind Gandhiji’s support for khadi.
“We need to appreciate that khadi is a shout out against industrialisation and fast fashion. Markets are flooded with Rs. 500 jeans, but are they sustainable?” he wonders.
It is hard not to draw parallels between Abraham’s collection and the ongoing debate on nationalism. “I am neither on the Right side nor on the Left; I am a centrist,” clarifies Abraham adding
the moment a designer showcases a collection on khadi, it is seen from the political perspective.
“Khadi has been associated with politicians and Swadeshi. All those connotations are not relevant in fashion. We are saying khadi is a beautiful fabric if seen from the perspective of fashion. It doesn’t have to do with saving the world, it can be used as an evening wear outfit or for wedding. It need not look serious all the time. It can be fun as well. We are trying to make khadi move into a space which is different.”
Khadi has its limitations as inconsistency in fabric and it can be a dampener. “I agree Khadi has complete inconsistency. Challenge for us, as designers, is to say that we accept it is as part of our life like organic eggs are smaller, brown bread has texture. We cannot have everything super smooth, superfine. With khadi we have to appreciate that it is made by hand. Luxury is not something made in a factory in China. Real luxury is something made by human hand, and India is a crucible for that.”
Gone are the days when designers used to compete with one another to showcase in fashion weeks abroad. David feels the future is in India. “We have been successful with couple of designers in Paris like Manish Arora and Rahul Mishra. But future is in India. See any economic survey, growth of fashion industry and the amount we sold in e-commerce, all numbers indicate that the biggest market is here.”Read more at:short formal dresses australia | long formal dresses