One session at the Fashion Conclave was dedicated to the fashion culture of Kashmir. The rich heritage of J&K crafts were showcased here, in the form of a fashion show called “Kashmir Calling”. The collection was curated by J&K Khadi and Village Industries Board.
From trending pastel shades to conventional darker hues, designs were displayed on a wide range of colours. The sarees and pherans captured the essence of Kashmir.
The fashion show was followed by the session “Fashion Takes from the Valley”, in which celebrity designer Rohit Bal and Hina Bhat, Vice Chairperson of North Zone Khadi Village Industries, participated. Both the guests have roots in Kashmir, and the valley influences their work heavily.
The panellists talked about khadi’s significance in India and about taking the fabric to the world stage. Hina Bhat said, “Khadi means freedom. The energy and determination surrounding khadi has changed drastically. It is not just a white cloth worn by politicians, it is much more than that. It is now being used internationally.” She also urged fashion designers to take khaadi to new heights.
To this, Rohit Bal added, “Khadi is a fabric of emotion and freedom. It’s really the texture of India. It is pure, organic and beautiful. For me, khadi is the emotion of independent India. It hasn’t been marketed as it should have been. The government introduced initiatives, but somehow we couldn’t follow through on it. I feel we have to make khadi popular in our own country before taking it abroad.”
Bhat and Bal also remembered Mahatma Gandhi, who started the khadi movement. They mentioned how initiatives such as Make In India and Khadi Commission are crucial in taking those ideals forward.
Giving recognition and employment opportunities to the artisans of Kashmir was an integral part of the discussion. It was brought to the attention of the audience that these craftspeople hardly get paid. According to Bhat, we need to preserve their crafts as what’s achieved with handicrafts can never be replicated with machines.
Bal praised the talent of Kashmiri artisans. He said, “They are immensely gifted. The work of Kashmiri artisans has an indigenous magic that comes from the soul. It’s instinctive, spontaneous and they don’t need to be trained. They have such amazing sense of the right proportion that goes into designing clothes. But being part of an unorganised sector or working out of their households is a big issue. Whatever we do for them is not enough.”