By Utpal Borpujari
There was a time when Khadi was the favourite fabric of politicians. But even as iconic fabric identified with Mahatma Gandhi has acquired a designer image in recent times, it has to a great extent fallen out of favour of politicians.
That is what Delhi-based Sunaina Suneja, a designer with a focus on Khadi, seeks to change, not only appealing the government to announce a “National Khadi Day” but also appealing to voters to wear Khadi on election day.
That is why Suneja has come up with the interestingly-titled “Election Collection” of her latest designer dresses made of Khadi, the idea being to remind people about the role the garment played in the national consciousness during the Independence struggle and also the responsibility of the present generation towards the nation.
“I work a lot with Khadi and thought elections could be an important occasion to promote this fabric that only India produces by connecting it to the concept of voting,” Suneja told Deccan Herald here.
In a pun on how various political parties fight “versus” one another during elections, she has named her latest collection “Politician Khadi vs Aam Aadmi Ka Khadi”. The collection would be showcased at a six-day exhibition beginning Friday in the capital.
“Both politicians and the common man wear khadi, and I thought why not have little fun on how parties contest against one another,” the Jawaharlal Nehru University alumni says on the theme.
Suneja has launched her collection keeping in mind the V-day in Delhi, which is May seven. But she adds, “Of course, one wants Khadi to go all over the world. It’s a very, very strong and beautiful fabric and India is the only country to produce it.”
On the trend of politicians now preferring other fabrics too, she says, “I think everybody needs to wear it. But you wear it because you believe in it. Khadi comes with a big message with it, and is identified with the life of Mahatma Gandhi.”
But was not Gandhi’s Khadi represented the most-simple lifestyle, while now Khadi is acquiring an upscale, “designer” label also? She has her answer ready to that, “We have evolved so much in the last 60-odd years as an independent country. This change in Khadi’s appearance is also part of that. If it is well-tailored, well-designed, it can be worn along with the best of garments anywhere in the world”
Suneja has also appealed to the government to declare a particular day of the year as the “National Khadi Day”, and is waiting for the response. “Working with and researching the making of Khadi is a very humbling task. Its production is such an awe-inspiring enterprise to even the uninitiated,” she says.
Suneja’s earlier collections based on Khadi include “Shades of Indigo Part II”, which showcased the wonders of the dye. She has also participated in the “Afrikhadi” project launched in South Africa during 2004-2006.