Sep 18, 2009
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India Communists look to promote 'Gandhi chic'

Sep 18, 2009

KOLKATA, Sept 18, 2009 (AFP) - Indian Communists are set to promote "Gandhi chic" by organising a fashion week showcasing the sorts of simple handwoven fabrics made famous by the independence leader.

Photo: AFP/File/Pal Pillai

So-called "homespun" fabrics were championed by Mahatma Gandhi in the 1930s during his struggle against British rule as a way of boosting the rural economy and showing pride in products produced in India.

The Communist-ruled eastern state of West Bengal has decided to host a fashion show in Kolkata on Saturday 19 to show off the local homespun industry that sustains up to a million weavers in the state, an official said.

"India's leading female and male models will walk the ramp wearing handwoven fabrics which are comfortable, eco-friendly as well as sophisticated," West Bengal handicraft and village industries commission chairman Mohammed Salim told AFP by telephone.

"The aim of the fashion show is to promote the handwoven fabrics to the international market which we feel is not aware of our rich heritage of handloom," he added.

The show faces a difficult task of diverting attention away from the commercial capital Mumbai, however, where the country's biggest fashion week is in full swing with the country's glitterati in attendance.

It also comes on the heels of the Kolkata fashion week last week.

Some Indian designers such as Bengal's own Sabyasachi Mukherjee have been promoting homespun fabrics recently as a unique Indian look instead of Western style.

Before the industrial revolution that took place in Britain in the late 18th-early 19th century, homespun textile production was the main industry in Bengal.

Homespun fabrics tend to look a bit rough, but are soft and available in a multitude of different shades, with reds, yellows and blues popular among local women.

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