Sunday, November 01, 2009

For the love of Khadi

While Khadi existed even before Mahatma Gandhi made it the symbol of India's freedom struggle, Gandhiji brought it to the masses. It was viewed as a tool that would empower rural India by creating jobs in villages and towns and thus lead to the economic improvement of the hinterlands. But with Khadi being associated with politicians and being a hand-made fabric, it didn't catch my attention for a long time. I had an impression that Khadi industries churn out only politician type clothes and the national flag from their factories. And hence, I never ever peeked at Khadi wear. Although, over time, I realised that only cotton wear suits me, because of the Mumbai climate and my body's cooling mechanism dynamics. But, I always bought cotton shirts and trousers from outlets other than Khadi. Until, one day, a friend of mine showed me his Khadi wear.

I was impressed by the make and the look of it. It was a kurta-payjama set and it appeared very nice and elegant. It was then, that I decided to try out Khadi wear. My friend informed me that Khadi outlets offer 20% discount on their products in the week following Gandhi Jayanti. I rushed to their outlet to take advantage of the sale. The Khadi Gramudyog Bhavan in Fort, Mumbai is a huge outlet. They have the advantage of being in a prime location. And they stock everything that is Khadi or from cottage industries. And there I realised, that Khadi is not only from the politicians, but for GenNext too! They are in touch with the times. Apart from the conventional kurtas, I also saw kurtas that were vibrant in colour. These had a contemporary look to them. And the cloth too was light weight. They did have the older heavier kurtas, for people who still like to wear those. They stocked shirts, ties, sarees, all type of silk wear and cotton wear. Apart from that, they also stocked various other cottage industry products like honey, incense sticks, soaps, herbal preparations, etc. I also realised that the sale is not only for a week but for one whole month!

It was a rare occasion when I shopped liked a shopaholic and bought kurtas for myself, my brother and my father. I've bought something for my mother, but have kept it a secret from her. I will be surprising her with that gift. Kurtas ranging from the traditional styles to modern contemporary styles, they were all there. Ties made from Khadi silk, cotton and silk sarees, shirts and a lot more. If you do not like the ready mades, you have an option of buying the cloth and then getting it stitched as per your style. And they don't cost too much. I got a cotton kurta for around Rs. 220/- after discount! And short kurta for daily wear at around Rs. 120/-. That, I would say, is damn cheap. And the comfort level in these clothes is awesome. You have to trust me on this, because I have been very choosy about what I wear. Some of my shirts are just lying around because I don't feel comfortable wearing them.

This trip to the Khadi Gramudyog Bhavan has converted me into a Khadi fan! I have just begun to love Khadi. And, the best part is that it is completely indigenous wear. We are encouraging small and medium entrepreneurs and also sustaining and creating jobs at village and town levels. That is what is more encouraging, apart from having good quality clothes to wear. Yes, Khadi Gramudyog does have good quality control checks. Now, I've planned a revamp of my wardrobe and have decided to slowly stock it up with Khadi! My swadesi movement has begun here.
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  1. Khadi is definitely something comfortable and nice to wear. I got the 'khadi affinity' while doing my post-graduation and the affinity has still not faded. But the Khadi stores in Chennai are an apology when compared to the one you were referring to so I stick to Fab's Khadis. One also seems to be the 'intellectual and brooding types' while donning the Khadi. I especially flaunt it with my jholas and kolhapuri footwear which make it seem even more swadeshi, as you call it.

  2. @Susan
    Only in a few cities are the Khadi stores stocked well. My mother told me that the Khadi store in Pune isn't well stocked. Fab India Khadi costs way more than the Khadi Gram Udyog wear.

  3. I agree with Susan, the Khadi gramodyog bhavan in Chennai is,well,creepy. I call it creepy because everything seems to have a layer of dust on it and the windows are covered with grime. There is also the musty smell of a warehouse.Fab India and other outlets selling Khadi are not worth the money though I must say they are stylish. Also, doesn't the Khadi from gramodyog bhavan shrink considerably after a wash?

  4. @Pappu
    Any pure cotton fabric is bound to shrink after the first wash. Doesn't matter if it is from Khadi Gramudyog or Dolce & Gabbana. And they do not shrink considerably, but just a little bit. For shirts, it is around 1 inch of their size or less than that.

  5. Hi Vinay..
    I just love khadi.. Almost whole of my wardrobe is stocked up with khadi.. and the one that you have clicked here in the post I also have that one.. :P hehe :D