“Show me the one with Ikat print,” asks the lady. The salesperson nods, “I am sorry ma’am, it is sold out.” These are the kind of conversations that one overhears in the mammoth two-storey building at Khadi Bhandar in Fort.
The store, which stands at the busy street On DN Road, has been around since the past 63 years. “As time passes, customers change and so do their choices. We have to cater to them for our survival. But we still maintain on our quality. We have bright colours in Khadi now which were almost absent some years ago,” explains Mahesh Manjrekar, manager, Khadi Bhandar, Fort.
It is true; Khadi is not regarded as a raw material anymore. Says Jayantilal Rupani, owner of the Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan in Andheri West. “The fabric is so versatile. One can wear it over jeans or create a jacket or a crop top that can be worn over long skirts. Many people complain about the stiffness of its texture but it is the coarse firmness of the fabric that creates a form that adds sophistication.”
With the increase in demand, the modern Khadi is going through a complete makeover with ikat and batik prints being the top sellers, even the modern tie-dye techniques (blending a colour with another) being implemented on the kurtas, bags and sarees. “People get a shock of their life when they see khadi in a different avatar. Batik and Ikat print sarees are very famous among the connoisseurs, especially the ones who know how to carry it off. The young ones, mostly go for coloured fabric or a bandhgala Nehru jacket in earthy tones of brown and black. It is just that people have to change their perception of it being only for a formal purpose,” asserts Rupani. It is about time that the Mahatma’s fabric gets its due. Coloured or printed, traditional or modern, which ones do you covet?