• Khadi Chic: Can it Power Rural Employment?

    The fusion of ultra-modern designs and traditional art-forms has helped India rediscover ‘Khadi’.  From exotic to casual wear, you can see a certain ‘Khadi’ aesthetic. It has also clinched its place in fashion shows and is being pitched to an ever-growing customer base. We’ve come a long way from Gandhiji’s traditional “spin-the-wheel” fabric, that’s for sure!

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    How Khadi is Becoming the New (old) Fashion Trend 

    Long recognised as core traditional Indian wear, Khadi is being adopted across age groups, and has the potential once again to be a movement of sorts. As the stellar designer, Ritu Beri said at the ‘Young Makers’ event:

    “We Indians are not confident enough in what we do or what we have. In designing too, we need to understand the taste and preferences of Indian audiences and instead of aping West, we should come out with some Indian-centric designs.”

    Before or even after the start of the festive season, the variety of hand-woven Khadi saris and dresses are doing the rounds on social media From the fashion designers who pick ‘Khadi’ as their choice of fabric to showcase new ideas and designs — Ritu Beri, David Abraham and Rakesh Thakore — to consumers who are powering the demand for khadi, to the rural women who provide the manufacturing base, it has the potential to be a game-changer. Growing demand could result in a great source of rural employment.

    In fact, Times of India reported earlier this year that in 2015-16, “sales of khadi and village industries shot up by over 14% to Rs 37,935 crore.” They go on to report, ”Khadi fabric and garments sales witnessed a 29% growth and crossed Rs 1,500 crore mark for the first time.”

    Can Khadi generate rural employment?

    There’s also of course a push from the Prime Minister — PM Narendra Modi on his radio program “Mann Ki Baat” had urged,  “One must buy at least one Khadi article every month and light the lamp of prosperity in the house of the poor.”

    Khadi is mainly manufactured in rural areas of India, woven by women artisans.  Currently, the people who are involved in the Khadi sector from rural areas are just earning Rs. 1200- 1800 in a month, according to Mygov.in. But more schemes are being planned by the government,  like Gram Nirman Mandal, Khadi Sansthan and GAYA, which should benefit rural women as they kick off in a few months from now.

    Feature Image Credit: Buonsilo