Renowned fashion designer Ritu Beri says celebrating a Khadi Day every year will encourage the use of the handspun fabric and give the sector a boost. The National Institute of Fashion Technology alumna, recently appointed the adviser for the Centre’s Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), hopes to change the fabric’s perception among youth who think of it as boring. Beri tells HT she wants to give India’s ‘signature fabric’ a makeover and take it to the global stage. Edited excerpts:
On being made the adviser for the KVIC, you said you would make khadi ‘a global fabric to reckon with’. How will you go about doing that?
The endeavour is to try to give it a makeover. I would love to rework the fabric’s look and reinvent it with modern designs to make it globally accepted. My intention is to introduce state-of -the art designs and styles in khadi readymade garments. We (KVIC) intend to promote the fabric and conduct exhibitions to enhance its image. We also need to encourage national and international fashion designers to use khadi increasingly in their collections.
Apart from being a symbol of our freedom movement, what qualities make khadi special?
Khadi is a weaver‘s delight. It is the most organic, breathable, comfortable and dyeable fabric made in India. It can also be styled in many ways. It is the fabric of the hour for hot Indian summers.
How can it be made more appealing to the youth?
Over time, khadi’s quality has improved tremendously. Unfortunately, youngsters find khadi boring and unfashionable. If khadi clothes are made with cutting edge designs at par with global designs and brands, they will automatically appeal to the youth.
The Indian Navy recently incorporated khadi uniform for one of its batches, Uttarakhand’s postal department ordered khadi cotton and woolen garments for its employees and Air India decided to use khadi products for amenity kits on its international flights. What other areas can khadi be made use of?
It can be used in uniforms for staff of hospitals to hotels and corporates. It would be interesting to declare one day a year as ‘Khadi Day’ to motivate everyone to wear the fabric.
Can khadi be used to fuel another key initiative of this government—Make in India — and in turn entrepreneurship?
Yes. It can surely be done. We are working on various ideas to do it.
How can khadi be used to empower women, who constitute 82% of the 1,25,000-strong workforce of the sector? Many of them are rural artisans.
The KVIC and state-level boards have been imparting skill development training programmes to women at various levels to make them financially independent.
What role does textile play in the heritage and economy of a country?
It is one of the largest and oldest industries in India. The sector makes for a large pool of skilled and experienced labour at unbelievably inexpensive prices. There is a huge demand for Indian textiles in international markets because of its versatility. The demand is expected to grow at a rapid rate in the future, contributing towards the country’s economic development.
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