Rooted in history and iconic movements, khadi has existed in India since time immemorial. While the rich fabric hasn’t had much luck with fashion, this Indian fashion designer is unabashedly bringing back khadi in the ultimate contemporary manner. Meet Ashish Satyavrat Sahu, founder and designer of Khadiwala Designer, a homegrown fashion label born out of Jharkhand.
Amidst the young consumer base which veers towards fluctuating fashion trends, Khadiwala Designer places itself distinctly among the crowd. It is almost like a love letter which shares Ashish’s fondness for khadi with the world, in the form of refreshing streetwear. Through the amalgamation of modern silhouettes and street style cuts, the label creates art through fashion. He was monikered ‘khadiwala designer’ by the local media, and that’s how the label’s name was born.
“My parents never wanted me to work with khadi,” Ashish reveals, surprising us. “But here’s what I tell them: khadi is the past, present and will be the future. I wish to extend my love for khadi in the new eras to come without manipulating the traditional principles and aesthetic of the fabric.”
A cursory glance through Khadiwala Designer’s Instagram feed sets its intent straight—sustaining local art and employing Indian artisans. Ashish makes use of sohrai khovar, a traditional and ritualistic mural art painted onto the walls of sun-baked mud houses, with naturally available soil colours from the state.
Ashish explains, “Sohrai is a festival where animals are worshipped. Hence to celebrate, the local villagers paint figures resembling animals on their earthen walls, with red, black, yellow and white clay. Khovar is a form of art which is made in the rooms of bridegrooms with white and black soil. It includes drawings of animals, trees, plants, flowers and more. The combination of these two art forms makes sohrai khovar come to life.”
Fusing these vibrant designs with the life of local communities, Khadiwala Designer reflects artisans and the subcontinent’s freedom struggle through free-flowing, minimalist silhouettes. “When the local artisans see their work transform from papers to textiles, they are elated with joy. That is the kind of respect and recognition I wish to give them through my label,” Ashish shares. Staying in tandem with this brand ethos, the homegrown fashion label has championed 3 things at once—with its heart in the right place—reviving an archaic fabric, enabling local communities with work, and sharing their art with the world.
Photographs: Courtesy of Khadiwala Designer