At the recent Green Bazaar, Chennai, I attended a talk hosted by Bindu Kasinadhuni of Chakra Design Studio & Preethi of Krya. In this talk they asked: Why not use Handloom Cotton clothing made using hank yarn & natural vegetable dyes, instead of the machine made clothes & chemical dyes?
Frankly, I never knew Handloom was an option for me. Second, I didn’t know its advantages. Have a look at some:
- Handloom is made using hand, hence doesn’t use electricity. Powerlooms use equivalent of 1.6 Kg of firewood to make 1 Kg of cotton.
- Handloom clothes are more suited to Indian climate – they do not lock heat & sweat. They have air pockets and are breathable.
- They are softer and more comfortable to wear.
- They are long lasting and get better with time.
- Handloom clothing integrate cultural and historical elements in their design.
- They don’t pollute land/water systems. Synthetic/chemical dyes affect/pollute rivers, land, and people working with them.
It seems, India once clothed the world. Even until our Independence, 90% of our clothes were handloom. Gandhiji’s Chakra is a symbol of our handloom textile industry. Now, almost 80% of the clothes are made using yarn spun in powerlooms that use chemical/synthetic dyes. When I was in Coimbatore, I used to read newspaper reports that mandated closure of textile industries in Tiruppur as their chemical wastes not only polluted the river and made the water unsuitable for irrigation, but also affected agricultural lands around the area.
We are wearing clothes made of the same chemicals!
Handloom cotton clothes have their limitations. They have non-uniform designs and patterns, edges are not straight, have a limited color palette, have a matte finish (not bright), fades faster, etc. They also need some care while washing and cost more.
But, the issue is, in Urban India, we don’t even consider buying handloom clothes! This mindset needs to change, and I think I will also buy and use (at least a few) Handloom shirts soon enough.
We were also introduced to Kalamkari painting and how the artisans work hard for a long time to create interesting paintings and patterns on clothes.
Have a look at this beautiful video that introduces Kalamkari textile making process:
Have a look at this article that introduces the work done by Chakra Design Studio in Handloom cotton clothing (and why it’s important).
So why not consider buying handloom textiles for yourselves?