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Indian Khadi Cloth: From National Fabric to Luxury Fashion

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Historically known as the symbol of economic and political freedom at the heart of Mahatma Gandhi's struggle for Indian independence, the hand-woven and hand-spun khadi cloth has been reinvented as a global luxury textile in contemporary Indian high fashion. This is the first book to address the thriving fashion industry that surrounds khadi in India, alongside the legacy Historically known as the symbol of economic and political freedom at the heart of Mahatma Gandhi's struggle for Indian independence, the hand-woven and hand-spun khadi cloth has been reinvented as a global luxury textile in contemporary Indian high fashion. This is the first book to address the thriving fashion industry that surrounds khadi in India, alongside the legacy of Gandhian thought in the postcolonial era, exploring how the textile has evolved from national cloth to high fashion fabric. Based on extensive ethnographic research, including interviews with designers, consumers and NGO advocates, Jay questions the relationship between the material and the social that continues to frame the production and consumption of khadi. How does khadi's symbolism as a 'moral' cloth change against a backdrop of conspicuous consumption and display? What happens to its potential to address issues of inequality and nationhood as it moves into the realms of ready-to-wear couture and heritage luxury? Caught between its historical symbolism and emergence in luxury fashion, khadi crystallizes broader questions about the role of non-western fashion in modernity, artisanal craft, ethical and sustainable fashion, and social relationships mediated through the materiality of cloth. Weaving together the complete history of khadi for the first time, Indian Khadi Cloth will appeal to students and scholars of textiles, fashion, anthropology and luxury.


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Historically known as the symbol of economic and political freedom at the heart of Mahatma Gandhi's struggle for Indian independence, the hand-woven and hand-spun khadi cloth has been reinvented as a global luxury textile in contemporary Indian high fashion. This is the first book to address the thriving fashion industry that surrounds khadi in India, alongside the legacy Historically known as the symbol of economic and political freedom at the heart of Mahatma Gandhi's struggle for Indian independence, the hand-woven and hand-spun khadi cloth has been reinvented as a global luxury textile in contemporary Indian high fashion. This is the first book to address the thriving fashion industry that surrounds khadi in India, alongside the legacy of Gandhian thought in the postcolonial era, exploring how the textile has evolved from national cloth to high fashion fabric. Based on extensive ethnographic research, including interviews with designers, consumers and NGO advocates, Jay questions the relationship between the material and the social that continues to frame the production and consumption of khadi. How does khadi's symbolism as a 'moral' cloth change against a backdrop of conspicuous consumption and display? What happens to its potential to address issues of inequality and nationhood as it moves into the realms of ready-to-wear couture and heritage luxury? Caught between its historical symbolism and emergence in luxury fashion, khadi crystallizes broader questions about the role of non-western fashion in modernity, artisanal craft, ethical and sustainable fashion, and social relationships mediated through the materiality of cloth. Weaving together the complete history of khadi for the first time, Indian Khadi Cloth will appeal to students and scholars of textiles, fashion, anthropology and luxury.

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