#SlowFashionSpotlight: Of Khadi, Ethical Production & Vaibbhavi P Label’s Sustainable Goodness

This artisanal Khadi handloom clothing line is everything ethical fashion should look and work like!

I recently discovered a brand that epitomises the beauty of slow living – Vaibbhavi P, an eponymous designer label with pieces that demonstrate immaculate attention to detail. Their ‘Traversee‘ collection inspired my Slow By The Sea series on Instagram; wandering about the shores in pearls paired wearing handspun and handwoven khadi that was soft as butter. This fair fashion brand creates clothing that generates sustainable livelihoods for every aspect of the supply chain – from cotton farmers that practice indigenous organic agriculture to the women weavers who support their families by keeping the khadi handloom tradition alive. It makes me so happy to discover, and support, the few brands that go all the way to do ethical fashion right – in every aspect from raw material to production.

Before we dive in to the gorgeous garments from this collection, it deserves to be noted – What is truly Khadi? And do you know how to identify your Khadi well? 

Khadi‘ is a word often thrown around as a fancy, organic, greenwashing bait. We may be told that any fabric – cotton or silk or even (gasp) poly blends – are “khadi” simply because they have a slub texture. Some of us may assume any off-white, unbleached cotton to be a khadi. Remember, it’s easy to recreate slubby, raised textures on powerloom now. A lot of times, handloom cotton is sold as ‘khadi‘ simply because it has a looser, open weave or looks a certain way or is a certain colour!

The simple, scientific definition of khadi and why it’s different from just a ‘handloom’ – it is handspun + handwoven which means a textile whose cotton fibres were handspun into yarns. A manually operated device called a ‘charkha’ (you may remember Gandhiji’s photos with this one) spins cotton fibre into yarn. Then, these yarns are handwoven into fabric. If you take apart the yarns from a khadi, even the yarn in itself may feel slightly uneven in thickness than a normal machine thread. The khadi movement by Gandhi aimed at boycotting colonial cloth, promoting the spinning of khadi for rural self-employment and self-reliance (instead of using cloth manufactured industrially in Britain which were sold at extremely high prices to Indians). This made khadi an integral part and an icon of the Swadeshi movement.

The fabric of this collection is a revelation – one touch, or even better, slipping the garments on makes one experience what true-blue khadi in all it’s organic glory feels like. The breezy, soft and breathable quality of a handspun and handwoven textile is quite another level of luxurious comfort all together, it almost makes you envy those centuries when this was the only kind of textile there was. All of the garments from Vaibbhavi P label’s Traversee Collection feature this beautiful textile, and the fact that they were made with indigenous organic cotton only makes them lovelier.

‘Women Weave’ is a collaborative partner for Vaibbhavi P Label, and the women weavers who work for them have flexible work hours, a safe, well lit workplace and can bring their children to work for there is a day care facility provided!

What I’m Wearing

Kaftan – Organic Khadi cotton, naturally dyed, handspun and handwoven with a gorgeous checked texture. This piece features a lovely detail, it has a madder-dyed woven striper on one end accompanied by an indigo-dyed striper on the other side. The tassels, and some running stitch details, were upcycled from excess yarn cut-off generated by the loom during the weaving process.

Over-Shirt, worn as a Dress – The vibrant ink blue is actually a woven interplay of white and indigo yarns which give it a gorgeous visual texture. The striped detailing, especially at the back, is my favourite part. And, who doesn’t love a dress with pockets that actually fit your phone?

The label has selected stockists, the one I went to in Mumbai being Toile, Bandra.

As a creative and mindful individual, one always has a point of view and ideas that one strongly believes in – especially when one has been working with various craft clusters across India, empathized with their challenges and believed in the immense opportunities that lie ahead. Observing the evolving relationships of people with their clothes and the changing expressions of fashion. My design sensibilities resonated with the ideas of slow fashion, mindful consumption and Indian heritage weaves; envisioning this philosophy translated into fusion fashion lines for the contemporary woman.  The label “Vaibbhavi P” stands for all this, my husband Pruthviraj M R is the co-founder of this label and is the business mind behind it. We work with craft clusters in various parts of India to develop textiles, after which the detailed garment development happens in our studio. The silhouettes are designed to reduce wastage, and we upcycle for a frugal approach to resource utilisation. The core endeavor is to provide sustainable livelihoods to the skilled artisans and thereby sustain the heritage crafts of India. We are thankful that the label has been featured in renowned national newspapers and magazines like Navhind Times, Goa and Hindustan Times, Mumbai,   Apparel, Femina and Pool Magazines India – this helps is spreading the good word to PAUSE for FASHION. – Vaibbhavi P

 

Mindfully made clothing will always last longer, and will deliver an experience incomparable to fast fashion. The very fabric of this collection is at one with nature, organic in it’s composition and creation, which makes them a joy to wear and to cherish. To explore all the gorgeous pieces, as well as order options from this conscious brand, drop by their website here. I love the slow fashion and textile inspiration all their ethically made collections offer – a great source to keep in mind the next time you’d like to purchase slow made separates in breathable fabrics.

 

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