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Kamal Haasan: 'It is our mission and responsibility to build a sustainable future'

Superstar Kamal Haasan on his sustainable fashion brand KH House of Khaddar.

October 31, 2021 / 06:42 PM IST

Popular film actors foraying into the business of fashion is not new. And Kamal Haasan is the latest superstar to have joined this bandwagon. The actor-director-producer-dancer-singer and politician, recently announced that he is launching his own fashion brand called KH-House of Khaddar.

The brand’s debut Fall/Winter 2021 collection will be launched in Chicago, USA, this month. The collection for men and women will be shipped globally, and is touted to comprise casual wear as well as couture.

Known for his attention to detail and penchant for perfectionism, Haasan visited the weavers of Kancheepuram himself. The National Award-winning actor was moved by the efforts weavers put in and how little they get paid.

In an interview with Moneycontrol, Haasan said the craft (weaving khadi) is dying, and it is up to youngsters to save it, retrieve it.

(To be sure, Khadi has seen a revival [again] in recent times with exhibitions like New Traditions: The influences and inspirations in Indian Textile, 1947-2017 curated by Mayank Singh Kaul at the Jawahar Kala Kendra in Jaipur, in 2018, and contemporary brands like Good Earth, péro and 11.11 ELEVEN ELEVEN championing it in their collections. Yet someone of Haasan's fame and resources could indeed give the fabric a fillip. Given the brand's focus on Western silhouettes and colours rarely seen in khadi, the fabric could also find new takers.)

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Haasan said he is keen to make the indigenous textile more relatable to youth today, and help the artisans and weavers too. The ultimate goal of a sustainable fashion brand, he said, is to have a system that works without leaving a negative footprint.

Excerpts from the interview:

What made you come up with this name?

The things that I respect mean a lot to me. I respect khaddar the textile and I respect the khaddar weavers and I wanted to house the two of them into one with my clothing brand KH House of Khaddar, so that people would respect us.

Tell us about the brand. What made you foray into clothing?

The endeavour of KH House of Khaddar did come out with all kinds of criticism earlier on as many people have begun working in fashion and did not reach far. But like Mahatma Gandhi, I believed in khaddar too and approached it with that same kind of will. And I found that positivity and vision in Amritha Ram to re-invent the fabric and the dreams to map it globally.

KH House of Khaddar's line has been designed by Kollywood costume designer and stylist Amritha Ram. She has also styled you and your daughter Shruti Haasan. What makes her work special to you?

Culturally, Amritha Ram is aware and seeped in Indian traditions. Professionally, she has studied fashion in NYC (New York City) and hence understands the fashion industry. Therefore, her understanding of both the ends of the spectrum is her USP. And someone with such USP is great for business. We work together in synergy and we believe in this together. Her passion, commitment and willingness to push and work hard are things that make me believe in her. And her thirst for constantly learning more, learning new things, helps her grow and that is why we’ve been working together for a while now.

What do you have to say about sustainable fashion?

Whether you’re a designer, a brand owner or a fashion lover who does not love fashion’s impact on the planet, choosing sustainable fabrics is one of the first things we all can do to make our wardrobes more eco-friendly. We, KH House of Khaddar, as a sustainable fashion brand, create fashion in a way which is most considerate of humanity and the environment, thereby reducing the environmental impact wherever possible. The ultimate goal is to have a system which works without leaving a negative footprint.

Kamal Haasan for MoneyControl (12) (1)

What do you think is the best thing about your brand?

At the KH House of Khaddar, we would be working directly with various weaver and craft communities, using a 360-degree approach to connect weavers, hand block makers, printers, and GI-certified clusters. (GI stands for geographical indication; it is a recognition given to fabrics like Banarasi silk and Odisha Ikat which can only be produced in the specified region.)

With versatile products ranging from casual wear, bespoke, couture and pret, each product of ours tells a unique story of its crafting and crafts person. It is not just our passion but also our mission and responsibility to build a truly sustainable future for these communities and families by creating new and smart products and a look at different business models that help increase production and incomes for them.

That apart, the most important USP of our brand would be “re-inventing’ and “re-designing” the fabric itself. Khadi is no longer about silhouettes that don’t flatter. We at KH House of Khaddar have come up with an array of colours, (the cloth is) dyed organically to perfection and (we) are creating western silhouettes and patterns to perfection that would put khadi on the global map.



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Debarati S. Sen is a freelance journalist.
first published: Oct 31, 2021 06:37 pm
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