Created using hand-spun khadi cloth, discover the fascinating story behind the creation of Jackson & Levine’s debut homeware collection for Habitat.
Traditionally khadi cloth was woven in villages for use by the locals to be made into clothing. The fabric was famously promoted by Mahatma Gandhi to give work to local people and to prevent the import of cheap fabric, as well as the manufacture of mass produced powerloom fabric. The raw cotton is first hand-spun by the women of the village -a laborious hand process but one which can be done in their own homes. It is then woven on simple handlooms into cloth. Because the cotton is loosely spun the yarn is very fragile and breaks easily and it is this that gives khadi its personality as it is irregular and slubbyin texture.
A FORGOTTEN ART
In the last few decades, this traditional khadi hand process has largely died out in India. People are leaving the villages and no longer have the time or the inclination for this kind of work. However in the last year or so there has been a growing understanding of the beauty of this fabric and in some areas, small producers have begun making it again.
At Habitat we feel it’s extremely important to support the production of this kind of traditional fabric and to help preserve the livelihoods that go with it. The khadi fabric that Habitat uses is woven by Amir Hasan, a traditional village weaver in Uttar Pradesh state, three hours north of Delhi, which is a traditional weaving area. Along with a small group of others, Amir produces all of the fabric used in the Jackson & Levine for Habitat project and is supported by the women of the village who spin the yarn. It takes a day to weave two metres of khadi and is painstaking work. Broken threads have to be carefully mended on the loom but there is still a lot of rejection.
Once made, the fabric is delivered to Habitat’s supplier in Delhi – Neeru Kumar – who has been working with Amir for over 25 years. Habitat has known and worked with Neeru for many years and her team hand screen print the khadi fabric with the botanical pattern developed by Alice, Laura and the designer Martha Coates and turn it into the Jackson & Levine for Habitat range of table and kitchen linens.