• Tayeeb Khan

Khadi – It’s Journey from Freedom Movement to Slow Fashion Movement



There has been a lot of talk and movements happening around fast and slow fashion. Thanks to the awareness being created amongst people about the effects of fast fashion.


On the 152nd Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, let’s talk about Khadi given the fact that several big brands & fashion designers are trying to revive the Khadi trend because it’s versatile and sustainable.


Mahatma Gandhi led several revolutions during his time. But Khadi movement was the one that made an ultimate fashion statement that is still relevant in the times where fast fashion is leading the game. Mahatma Gandhi managed to make a political symbol out of Khadi and resuscitated people’s interest in the handspun fabric.


How it started:


In 1905 Mahatma Gandhi started the swadeshi movement against the British. The idea was to promote “Made in India” and boycott foreign goods.


We, the current generation understand the slogan “Made in India” and are proud of this too. But how many of us comprehended the fact that the “Made in India” revolution is the swadeshi movement. The Swadeshi movement was not just a fight against the British but was a way to bring India out of poverty and create produce and jobs locally. It was the first and much-needed step towards self-reliance and self-sustainability for Indians.


In 1918, Mahatma Gandhi started spinning the cloth himself as a form of protest and encouraged others to do the same. Mahatma Gandhi & the spinning wheel (Charkha) became synonymous and became a nationalist symbol. The Khadi movement became the most important aspect of the Swadeshi Movement.


Mahatma Gandhi created grass-roots organizations to encourage handloom weaving. This is where the Khadi or the Khaddar movement started.


Khadi movement was not just a revolution against the British, it was a fight led by him to improve the socio-economic conditions of people living in villages. It helped them in attaining self-reliance to some extent. Mahatma Gandhi once said that “If 200 million people produce khadi with their own labor and wear it, the face of India will be transformed”


Khadi in Modern Day:


Khadi was an important part of the Indian freedom movement and will always hold a special place in the heart of Indians.


Though, it was neglected for a long time after Independence. Thanks to some of the fashion designers like Ritu Beri who showcased her first khadi fashion collection at a show in 1990. After that many of the top fashion designers across the world started experimenting with khadi fashion.


In a time when clothes are mostly mass-manufactured using machines, Hand Spun Khadi makes a strong statement against fast fashion and machine-made clothes. It promotes sustainability, self-reliance.


Reviving Khadi means, reviving the decades-old craft of creating hand spun fabric. Though there is a lot of effort going on from designers and the government, we are still a long way from it. The trend of Khadi is coming back and there is no doubt in that, but we still have a long way to go.


It is ironic how after all these years of freedom, foreign countries still find a way to exploit & oppress Indians. India has been the biggest garment manufacturer for fast fashion giants across Europe & America. What this means for India is that it has made India the hub of low wages and modern-day oppression. If you want to learn more about fast and slow fashion & its effects, you can check out our post on Fast Fashion & Slow Fashion – The Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion.


But the problem is not just these fast fashion giants, the problem is We – the consumers. Because every time a new collection launches at a fast fashion store, we get in line to buy it. We as consumers need to realize the effects of fast fashion and make the transformation towards sustainable slow fashion. In doing so, we can promote the use of Khadi and keep our age-old craft alive. Khadi has always been and will always be a symbol of freedom for us Indians.


Would love to know your thoughts on Khadi, Fashion & Mahatma Gandhi, you can let your thoughts out in the comments section below.


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