Your Garment Stories
The Story of the Fabric for National Theatre's 'The Father And The Assassin'
History of Khadi and Links to Gandhi
Khadi was revived by Gandhi in 1918, a little over a hundred years ago. It soon became a symbol of simplicity, freedom, non-violence and village sovereignty. Gandhi also forged struggles for Indian farmers and textile workers. A combination of grassroots programmes and non-violent campaigns for rights transformed the Indian independence movement; from being a monopoly of the elite campaigning for a limited objective of home rule to a mass movement which evolved into a freedom movement.
The cotton and wool fabrics for The Father and The Assassin production were sourced from Rajasthan and Gujarat. These were Udyog Bharti, a cooperative in Rajkot district and Khamir, a social enterprise in Kutch. They both source the organic cotton fibres and indigenous wool fibres from within the district, using a model of decentralised production with value addition which takes place locally.
Organic khadi cotton was also supplied for the project from a co-operative in Rajasthan.
Skills Used in Production
Organic / Regenerative farming
The cotton is organically grown without chemical fertilisers and chemical pesticides. This farming practice uses rainwater to water crops resulting in far less (if any) additional water being required.
The wool is from indigenous sheep raised by pastoralists, representing the traditional regenerative model of raising sheep.
Cotton is hand woven by local weavers in villages, so no industrial machinery or plastic fibres are involved in the making.
Fabric is hand woven on paddle looms by local weavers in villages, mostly in their homes. The yarns are starched with potato or rice paste for stiffness and ease in weaving, meaning that only natural additives are used. Hand weaving uses virtually no carbon energy as all energy provided is human.
Stripe detailing is hand woven into the fabric rather than printed.
Dyeing With Natural / Azo-Free Dye
Fabrics are dyed with natural dyes and Azo-free dyes using traditional methods.
Marginalised Workers / Preserving and Improving Traditional Crafts
Marginalised workers can be anyone who has challenges in getting employment. This opportunity opens doors to people who are often the key family person and are balancing busy households alongside poor living conditions and lack of employment.
Traditional crafts in India are integrally linked to lifestyles of communities and their culture, religion, or customs. It is essential to uphold and celebrate artisan stories in context of historical and cultural significance of the crafts as well as the artisans’ livelihoods.
Cotton fabric producing social enterprises have teams of talented female artisans who utilise their skills of traditional craft such as weaving and natural dyeing. 80% of khadi spinners are women and 30 to 50% of the work is unpaid labour. We are trying to work against these statistics, giving women an opportunity of freedom, offering fair wages, medical and educational support, and the necessary boost to grow.
Fair Wages and Good Working Conditions
Artisans are paid based on production on a regular basis. The working practice conditions closely follow the UN Sustainable Development Goals including, 1. Zero poverty, 3. Good health and well-being, 4. Quality education, 5. Gender equality, 6. Clean water and sanitation, 8. Decent work and economic growth and 16. Peace, justice, and strong institutions. Regular communication between organisations takes place over Zoom, as well as face to face meetings with artisans in India.
Creating Employment in Rural Areas
According to Craftmark, over 23 million people work in the craft sector in India – the second largest industry after agriculture. Many crafts are still very dependent on the local ecosystem for the procurement of raw materials, which in turn provides livelihood to several allied workers at each stage of preparation. Supporting artisans through social enterprises is essential to sustaining the crafts skills and the artisan’s way of life. The artisans are locally based with minimum travel miles which avoids payment for lengthy travelling. They are supplied with the necessary equipment, training, and support.
Carbon Usage – Renewable Energy / Hand Powered
We choose to work with artisans that are focusing on handprint, hand screen print, hand spinning and weaving which use a lot less energy than machinery. Industrial production results in higher carbon emissions and a smaller workforce. Hand powered methods have very low carbon emission and additionally this means more workforce is needed which gives more people the possibility to earn their living.
Our focus is on maintaining planet friendly collaborations, choosing fibres that are organic and naturally rain fed, hand (vat) dyeing processes and natural dyeing.
Hand painting and hand printing methods also use much less carbon and water than machine
Business Model (Purpose Led, Non-Profit)
The fabrics supplied to the National Theatre were created using transparent supply chains and were made by organisations with ethics and concern for environment as core values. Both we and our collaborators are purpose led, looking beyond profits and guided by the principle of positive impacts.
Brief Overview of Where Does It Come From?
Where Does It Come From? is a UK registered social enterprise. We are advocates for promoting khadi and are on a mission to use textiles as a platform for change – working with natural fabrics, social enterprise production and circular design. As a social enterprise we have won many awards and are members of the British Association of Fair-Trade Shops and Suppliers (BAFTS). Our textiles journey can be traced right from the beginning, from the cotton crops grown in the fields to the garment creation. Our products always have a traceable story, and you can get to know the artisans who made the clothing and textiles by exploring the garment story using the code on the label or visiting our product story pages at www.wheredoesitcomefrom.co.uk/trace.
Brief Overview of Mishika
Mishika Crafts is a social enterprise based in Jaipur, Rajasthan. They work closely with Gram Bharati Samiti (GBS) and the women’s self-help groups which GBS has formed and supports. Their work includes promoting, sourcing, and making handcrafted items, organic fabric, hand printing and natural dyeing. They have a diverse team and employ 20 female artisans who would otherwise struggle to get employment that provides fair wages. During the pandemic they were able to support families in providing masks, food, sanitizer and covid vaccinated camps.
Brief Overview of Khadi London
Khadi London is a UK charity. Their objectives are to:
- advance research and education for regenerative fabrics and fashion globally.
- To support production and marketing of organic and regenerative fabrics through decentralised and diverse systems of production
- To establish a Knowledge Hub for khadi in the UK.