Khadi fabric is a handwoven textile made from natural fibers. It's a very versatile material used in many different applications today, including clothing fabrics in the fashion industry.
Khadi, commonly referred to as khaddar, is a whole group of artisanal products originating from East India but also widely used throughout East Asian countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Many people in the whole world wear khadi clothing today as it promotes a more sustainable, local, responsible fashion industry that protects the environment, traditional artisanal techniques, and garment workers.
To help you make more mindful purchasing decisions as a well-informed consumer, here is all you need to know about khadi fabric.
In this article:
- What is khadi fabric?
- Who invented Khadi?
- Which fabric is used for Khadi?
- How many types of khadi are there?
- What is khadi fabric used for?
- Are khadi and cotton the same?
- Is Khadi the same as linen?
- Are khadi products natural?
- Is Khadi good for summer?
- Why is khadi expensive?
- What are the benefits of wearing khadi?
- Is khadi cotton organic?
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What is khadi fabric?
Khadi is a handwoven and hand-spun fabric made of natural fibers such as cotton, wool, or silk. Originated from India, khadi is a versatile material used for clothing that promotes high-quality, luxurious, and artisanal creations.
Khadi fabric is a high-quality, luxurious textile with many incredible qualities for clothing. It's lightweight, durable, and comfortable with a soft hand feel.
Clothes made of khadi cloth are cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They are highly breathable, natural, and absorbent. They regulate body temperature very well and are perfect to keep you cool and fresh.
Who invented Khadi?
Mahatma Gandhi invented Khadi during the Swadeshi movement or Indian independence movement that promoted Indian nationalism leading India against British rule from 1906 to 1947.
The boycott of English products including foreign cloth made Khadi spun with the Chakri or spinning wheel the symbol of the Nationalist movement.
Mahatma Gandhi promoted self-employment and self-reliance through the spinning of khadi fabric. Indian mill owners used to export cloth material to British fabric mills that reimported finished goods to India.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an Indian lawyer, highly influential leader, and anti-colonial nationalist responsible for India's independence from British rule.
Mahatma first applied to him in 1914 in South Africa when he campaigned for civil rights to prevent prejudice against him and his fellow Indians from British people.
Mahatma Gandhi is well-known throughout the world for employing non-violent resistance to achieve goals such as social change for civil rights and freedom.
Which fabric is used for Khadi?
Khadi is a well-known, hand-woven, natural fiber fabric usually made from cotton, silk, or wool in the eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent, mainly Eastern India, Northeastern India, and Bangladesh.
Khadi products create new opportunities for artisans and weavers that support the local economy and the well-being of local communities. Raw materials are ethically sourced from textile belts across India to make Khadi.
Many indigenous communities participate in the country's apparel chain. Khadi helps establish a more inclusive supply chain in the country, based on awareness, self-reliance, and economic independence.
How many types of khadi are there?
There are three main types of khadi fabric, khadi cotton, khadi wool, and khadi silk. Although usually made from cotton, khadi cloth can be handwoven from a blend of any of these natural materials.
There are many variations of khadi fabric that include cotton, silk, and wool. However, cotton is the better material as it's more ethical and doesn't make animals suffer.
Silk isn't the most animal-friendly textile. It's a luxury fabric and one of the most expensive in the world. But the silk industry is as exploitative and cruel today as it was centuries ago.
Wool is obtained from animals that are enslaved, exploited, subjected to painful treatments, and exposed to dangerous substances with long-term disastrous effects on ecosystems and human health.
Khadi fabric is now available in multiple variations with different textures, colors, weaves, patterns, and price points. Many modern, innovative cuts and styles are crafted from Khadi, including a wide range of shirts, pants, dresses, and more.
What is khadi fabric used for?
Khadi fabric is often used in the fashion industry to make clothing, shoes, bags, accessories, and jewelry. It's also used to make beddings, household textiles, home decor, upholstery, and furniture.
The popularity of khadi is rising. Fashion brands and clothing designers use khadi to meet consumers' demands for sustainable, ethical, and affordable clothing.
In the clothing industry, khadi fabrics make knitwear, loungewear, hats, suits, blouses, dresses, shirts, coats, pajamas, robes, undergarments, and more.
You can find Khadi in homeware, furniture, upholstery, carpets, bathrobes, towels, drapes, bed sheets, curtains, and home decor, like other soft and luxurious fabrics.
The market for khadi fabrics is expected to slightly rise in the coming years, as new apparel and home furnishing applications develop, especially in East Asia.
khadi is important for the fashion industry and its future as a way to promote a sustainable, local, responsible economy. Khadi not only has historical and philosophical importance, but also a key role to play in the development of a more ethical clothing industry.
Are khadi and cotton the same?
Khadi and cotton aren't the same. Khadi fabric is a handwoven textile made from natural fibers, usually cotton, silk, or wool. Conventional cotton isn't necessarily hand-spun since most cotton fabrics are mass-produced using heavy machinery.
The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) defines Khadi as any cloth woven on handlooms in India from cotton, silk, or woolen yarn handspun in India or from a mixture of any two or all of such yarns.
The organization promotes and assists in Khadi development in rural areas since 1957. It works with several agencies and governmental bodies to implement economically viable options for the rural poor.
KVIC is well-known for planning and promoting the development of Khadi fabric. It works diligently to improve the techniques and offer employment to Indian artisans and weavers.
Is Khadi the same as linen?
Khadi isn't the same as linen. Khadi fabric is a handwoven textile made in India from natural fibers, usually cotton, silk, or wool. Linen is made from flax plant fibers and isn't necessarily hand-spun in India by artisans and weavers.
Linen is used today for clothing, but also household articles such as towels, bedsheets, rugs, wall coverings, pillows, curtains, or tablecloths.
Linen cloth represents luxury, preciousness, and extravagance since history. It used to symbolize wealth, power, and authority.
On the other hand, Mahatma Gandhi was against promoting Khadi fabric as a high-quality textile to cater to the luxury market. Khadi is first and foremost a means to encourage handloom weaving or local products.
Are khadi products natural?
All khadi products are natural by definition. Khadi is a handwoven textile from natural fibers such as cotton, silk, or wool. All khadi clothes are hand-spun into yarn on a spinning wheel using natural yarn, usually cotton.
Khadi reflects the significance of traditional hand-weaving techniques deeply rooted in Indian culture. It's typically a method of conserving traditions and artisanal practices against more modern, mechanical processes.
Khadi products benefit the natural world and the human environment on numerous levels. They help artisans, weavers in local communities generate income without any need for rural to urban migration.
Khadi products are well-known to have a lower carbon footprint and environmental impact. All khadi processing, spinning, and weaving use natural materials and human power instead of resource-intensive industrial processes.
Is Khadi good for summer?
Khadi is an ideal fabric for summer clothing. It's extremely soft, lightweight, and breathable. Khadi cloth is very pleasant to the touch, water-absorbent, and quick-drying.
Clothes made of Khadi are comfortable, cool, luxurious, and good for warmer, humid weather with moisture-wicking properties. Khadi fabric is very versatile and used for men's and women's summer clothing alike.
Why is khadi expensive?
Khadi is expensive because it's a hand-woven fabric from natural fibers with limited availability and difficult manufacturing that requires time, manual labor, and the expertise of artisans and weavers.
Many people complain about the costliness of Khadi. However, Khadi is a high-quality and luxurious material that makes fantastic environmentally friendly and socially responsible clothing to support local communities and artisanal techniques.
Instead of buying low-quality clothes at an artificially inflated price, wear durable, natural, and super soft khadi clothes made from cotton that not only prevents pollution but also promotes self-employment and self-reliance for underserved communities.
What are the benefits of wearing khadi?
Khadi is a natural fabric widely used in high-quality clothing. It's very soft, comfortable, lightweight, breathable, and durable. It's a material found in a lot of everyday clothing as a more responsible alternative.
Khadi cotton fibers are very pleasant to the touch, water-absorbent, and dry quickly. And they are also strong, resistant, long-lasting, and give a natural look and feel to any modern, conscious wardrobe.
Khadi fabric can easily be dyed, cut, and sewn in a variety of styles and patterns. They are many types of khadi fabric available in multiple sheens and color options.
Is khadi cotton organic?
Khadi cotton isn't necessarily organic but very likely as cotton is mostly grown organically in subtropical countries such as India from non-genetically modified plants, without any use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides.
Organic cotton preserves biodiversity and agricultural cycles. The conversion of conventional cotton production to organic drastically reduced the use of pesticides and increased yields.
Due to rising organic cotton demand, India, China, Turkey, Pakistan, and many other countries started producing it. Before buying any cotton clothing, look for organic certification.
Many types of khadi fabrics are made from organic cotton, but not all of them. Make sure to choose organic cotton when buying Khadi to encourage the use of natural, ethical, and organic fibers in the textile and apparel industry.
Organic cotton is generally less harmful to the environment and the health of workers. The most water-efficient option is rain-fed, organic cotton that gets water from rainfall.
No toxic chemicals are used in the growing of organic cotton. It doesn't damage the soil and has a lower impact on water and energy sources. It also keeps farmers and their families safe.
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About the Author: Alex Assoune
Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.