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‘Khadi’ needs marketing, tech push to widen appeal in Indian textile arena

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Khadi
Image source: stitchwallah.com

New Delhi: The ‘Made in India’ fabric Khadi is slowly but steadily generating interest in the West. However, if it is to widen its appeal, there are certain issues which the sector should address, said the creative head of Moral Fibre Fabrics, who has supplied khadi to Hollywood as well.

“With encouragement to the khadi movement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, khadi is generating a lot of interest. This is the time to go deeper and evaluate the sector and its impact from all angles,” Shailini Sheth Amin, the creative mind behind the Ahmedabad-based company, told reporters in an email interview.

“Right now we have some focus on this most valued but dying legacy of khadi,” he said.

Noting that today’s youth will not wear khadi for its symbolism or under any emotional pressure, Amin said the fabric needs to be seen as “much more than ‘heritage’ and a ‘fashion statement’. It should reach beyond ‘bhandars’ and fashion shows”.

Moral Fibre Fabrics is a web-based social enterprise set up in 2008, and works locally with a few khadi cooperatives around Ahmedabad, creating work opportunities in production, processing, dyeing, printing and tailoring.

With the business-to-business wholesale marketplace model, the brand has an international buyer base in Britain, the US, Australia and some European countries.

The company’s fabric has also been used in Hollywood films like “Pan”, and it regularly supplies Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran, who has designed costumes for movies like “Pride and Prejudice”, “Atonement” and “Anna Karenina”.

When Amin set up her brand, her aim was to reinvent khadi as a socially and environmentally sustainable fabric while maintaining high-quality standards. But the journey has not been easy.

“I could see that there was a need to upgrade and reinvent khadi as the most environmentally-sustainable fabric and expand its varied uses. I realised that the lack of marketing orientation and technological obsolescence are the major obstacles for khadi to play a larger role in the Indian textile arena,” she said.

“When I started, almost no one believed in what we did. In fact, most of the people I came across in the field… themselves did not believe in the hand-crafted fabric. No one was interested in taking it forward.”

“Khadi fabric was considered to be badly made, badly sold and cheap-looking. This fabric had, and still has, big identity issues and it was considered an attire of corrupt politicians,” said Amin.

Of late, several fashion designers have been doing their bit to popularise the fabric, famously used by Mahatma Gandhi as a symbol of protest against the British Raj, in creative ways.

When she started out, Amin found that her brand had more international than domestic buyers, some 85 percent of sales came from abroad.

The milestone moment for the brand, she said, came when they supplied fabric to Hollywood projects.

“Our fabrics were seen by a sourcing agent for a film in a London shop and she got in touch with us. She was very pleased when she heard about the social and environmental sustainability credentials of these fabrics.”

Amin feels proud that the “rustic fabric made by spinners and weavers from small villages in Gujarat is now recognised the world over”. (Nivedita, IANS)

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Gandhi’s Teachings Still Relevant, Says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Bezos also announced that they have decided to double down the investment for the streaming service in the country. The evening wrapped up with a soulful Sufi performance by music maestro AR Rahman

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

BY SUGANDHA RAWAL 

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos feels his trip to India started off on the right note with kites and says he felt honored to be able to lay a wreath on the memorial of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi at Raj Ghat in Delhi.

From dressing in ‘desi’ attire to spending time with some kids to showing off his kite-flying skills on the occasion of Makar Sankranti, Bezos made the most of his India trip. He looked back at the time spent in the country during a conversation with superstar Shah Rukh Khan and filmmaker Zoya Akhtar at a glitzy Amazo Prime Video event here.

“Kite flying was fun… Any day when you get fly kite is a good day.. My trip to India started off on the right note with kites,” Bezos said.

Asked about his experience at the Raj Ghat, he said: “It was very peaceful. He truly changed the world and taught us the principle of non-violence. It was a great honour to be there and lay a wreath.”

When SRK asked if Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching still relevant, Bezos said: “It will be relevant forever..They are true but somehow very hard to achieve.”

Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos walks onstage in Seattle. Source-VOA

Bezos, who is ranked amongst top most global billionaires, was on a three-day India visit starting from Tuesday. He has been to India several times, and has noticed one thing about the country.

“I noticed certain things that seem to me to be the same. There is so much energy, colour, full of life, and everywhere you go, there is so much diversity…Every time I come here, I find that the people that I talked to, are focused on and interested in being better tomorrow than they are today. Everybody here seems to be focused on self improvement. So, when I come here I get a boost of energy,” he said.

Be in its India slate or global line-up, Amazon has diverse projects added to its library. Bezos says the aim is to make it a ‘talent friendly” studio.

“I think this is a golden age of television. There are really good TV series in terms of quality of the very best movies. Now, the best storytellers are coming to TV. You’re getting the best actors in television. This is one of those businesses where the viewer always look for something a little fresh, so you can never find formula. As soon as you find a formula, it’s not fresh,” he said.

Also Read: Software Giant Microsoft Aims to be ‘Carbon Negative’ by 2030

Bezos continued: “I want us to be known as the most talent friendly studio in the world. And the reason at the end of the day is that it is the talent that makes those stories. Storytelling is the oldest thing that we’ve been doing it.”

“It is one of the hardest things that humans do is tell riveting inspiring stories,” he added.

Bezos also announced that they have decided to double down the investment for the streaming service in the country. The evening wrapped up with a soulful Sufi performance by music maestro AR Rahman. (IANS)