A fated conversation in a cafe led to a love affair with an old Indian fabric …
Emily & Khadi is a sustainable, ethical clothing range, made with what is described as the least harmful fabric – Khadi.
What is Khadi?
Khadi is an old Indian fabric with a rich history, which by name means handspun & handwoven. Khadi can be made from cotton, silk or wool, but for Emily & Khadi is only woven from cotton. The cotton is hand spun and then woven into Khadi on a traditional Indian loom. The Khadi cotton used for E&K is sourced from a municipal, South Indian town, from a non profit organisation working towards sustainable living. The women who weave the Khadi are paid a decent living wage and any profit made from the fabric is poured straight back into the organisation and towards running their various initiatives.
In 2016 Emily traveled to India to study Yoga. Whilst there, by chance, she overheard a conversation in a cafe where a lady was describing a beautiful handwoven fabric that was coloured with natural dyes. The lady went on to describe the organisation that made the Khadi and how they help to support the local community by running various programmes, including an adoption agency for abandoned children & skill teaching programmes for the local community. Emily was instantly taken with the story and she inquired as to where this wonderful place was. Emily made her first trip to the organisation just days after she heard the conversation & completely fell in love with the fabric, the people of the organisation and the whole philosophy of Khadi. Within a matter of days she had thought up her first designs, found a local tailor, and the first few pieces of what was later to become Emily & Khadi were being made.
Mahatma Ghandi bought Khadi to the limelight in 1918 when he started a movement for self reliance amoungst rural Indian communities. He envisioned Khadi as a route to freedom and independence. At that current time, raw materials were exported to England and then re-imported as costly finished cloth, which deprived the local population of work and any potential profit.
The dyes used to colour the Khadi are made from completely natural fermented elements, using ancient techniques. The black is made from jaggery & iron, the red from alizarin, the brown from Betelnut and the classic indigo is fermented in pits in the ground for weeks on end (there are only a handful of people in India still using this ancient and traditional technique for Indigo dying).
It goes without saying that Khadi is very special, therefore, Emily has intentionally kept the design of the clothes as simple as possible to allow the fabric to shine.
The garments are now made by one young lady in South London, meaning there is a beautiful relationship between India and England. A working collaboration, to keep the slow, thoughtful Khadi spirit alive, in a fast paced, modern world.
All pieces are made to order to ensure minimal wastage. Offcuts are kept and sold by request. Please get in touch if you are interested in obtaining.
Photography by Balamurgan Valliyammai