The fabric of freedom, after a makeover, has emerged as a fabric of fashion
It is election time and politicians sporting khadi, the humble fabric of India, is commonplace. Those in the business of khadi are busy tailoring white kurta-pyjamas for politicians and their supporters eager to flaunt that immaculate look. Come elections and it’s time to rely on the time-tested khadi.
At a time when recession is crippling other businesses, the khadi industry seems to be doing a roaring business.
A crisp white khadi kurta-pyjama defines an Indian politician and so it is understandably the favourite attire of candidates and party workers.
Endorsement of khadi by suave young crop of politics like Rahul Gandhi, Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia has given the much-needed boost to the apparel.
Young and charismatic politicians have enhanced the glamour quotient of the simple hand-spun khadi by making a style statement. Rahul Gandhi combines his khadi kurta-pyjama with a sleeveless black jacket. He wears them with quirky shoes or floaters rather than the customary kolhapuris or mojris.
The debonair Jyotiraditya Scindia makes political appearances wearing well-cut khadi bandhgalas. A politician known for his articulate speeches, Omar Abdullah flaunts khadi not only in white but in all colours. The wide variety to choose from comes as a boon.
Closer home in Andhra Pradesh, politicians prefer a traditional dhoti or a starched khadi shirt with trousers.
“We have a good collection of kurtas, shirts and T-shirts and there’s no reason why youngsters should not go ga-ga over the available range.
Politicians wear khadi to be noticed and it also lends a touch of exclusivity”, says Prasad, a salesman in a khadi shop. Explaining why politicians prefer white khadi apparel in summer, he says the escalating temperatures during the day makes things difficult for contestants and their supporters during campaigns.
He, however, hastens to add that the demand for khadi clothes does not match the zeal for buying a Gandhi topi, once a popular headgear. “May be it has outlasted its utility,” he tries to reason out.
If Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy likes to be seen in a spotless white dhoti teamed with a long-sleeved shirt, his political rival Chandrababu Naidu prefers a stiff beige shirt and trousers.
Although most politicians pick khadi apparel, not all of them are driven by the true spirit of the hand-woven indigenous apparel, evoked by Gandhiji. ‘Clothes maketh a man’ they say and for a large Indian population not just believes in it but also likes to dress up trendily.
Over the years, khadi has attained sophistication and the makeover is being embraced by the younger lot like never before.
“It’s like once you are a khadi user, you like to remain loyal to its cool and comfortable feel,” says M. Chowdhary, a real estate developer.
Khadi fabrics are woven on handloom from cotton, silk, and woollen yarn, which are hand-spun. It is natural, durable and ideal to wear in the humid Indian climate, as it causes no itching or allergy. Khadi is also an environment and eco friendly garment.
In an attempt to reverse the trend of degenerating environment, efforts are on to produce 100% eco-friendly textiles.
Produced from wild varieties of cotton found in Ponduru in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh, the fabric is developed without the use of chemical fertilizers.
Mahatma Gandhi promoted khadi to boycott imported foreign clothes. Today the fabric is preferred mainly because of its wide appeal besides its unquestionable utility factor.HARJEET KAUR ALLAGH