Organic Cotton Khadi
You'll notice something new amongst the linens and the raw silk in the clothing collection this year - cotton. I’m over the moon to be including some gorgeous organic cotton fabrics into the mix. The type of cotton I've sourced, however, is not just any cotton, but an organic, hand-woven variety that comes from India (largest organic cotton producer in the world) and is otherwise known as khadi.
The moment I laid my eyes on these beautiful cottons I knew I had to include them in the range (you know it’s good when you lose sleep for a few nights over sheer excitement). There are two types that I want to tell you about that are my absolute favourites and I'll be using them in generation III of Ren London clothing. The first is a Kala cotton and it's a stripy organic cotton (Siena Blouse, coming soon!) that is indigenous to the Kuchchh region and is one of the last genetically pure cotton species remaining in India. Sadly the number of weavers in this region has decreased significantly over the last few decades and an initiative has been launched to preserve this sustainable cotton production and ensure the livelihoods of local artisans.
Kala cotton is hand woven and dyed using natural dyes. The base colour ranges from an off white to a cream and comes in a variety of patterns, many of which are variations of stripes. The weight varies from mid to light and I absolutely can't get enough of this fabric and have more sample lengths on order. So, there's definitely more Kala cottons coming your way this year and I hope you love them as much as I do!
The next type of cotton I'll be using this year is called Nimar as it comes from the region by the same name. It's woven by an artisan cooperative in a small town of Kasrawad. The workshop where this fabric is produced also doubles as a training centre for women weavers. The fabric is hand woven and dyed using azo free dyes. I've waited a long long time for this organic cotton to arrive and it landed in my arms just the other day. It was custom dyed in the most perfect olive green tone. I'm very pleased with this fabric, the colour and its beautiful texture. I have some very special plans for it, but as it's a late arrival, you'll probably see this in clothing form later in the year.
As beautiful as these textiles are, I have to admit that there's definitely some challenges to working with them too. For example, the handwoven quality of these fabrics means that there are small irregularities running throughout the weave or slight un-eveness in the colours. I personally think these give the fabrics their charm and serve as a reminder of the painstaking human labour that’s gone in to create them. I'm happy to work with and around these little blunders as they are so beautiful and special, like the communities that produce them.
Hand weaving fabric, as you can image, is a very slow process. It takes a day just to weave a mere 2 meters of the Kala cotton. So long production times are definitely something new to me (good things take time, right?!). This only really means that I have to plan ahead much more and unlike the European sourced linen, it isn't going to show up at my studio in under a week whenever I wish to reorder. A little disclaimer here: I urge you to pre-order these new cotton styles. If you miss out, the wait is going to be significantly longer on further editions.
I must say, I have the utmost respect and admiration for the communities that make these beautiful fabrics and am really thrilled to be introducing them to you. Hopefully you'll love the pieces I've designed in them and help me to support these skilled communities and continue to bring value to what they do.
My wonderful friend Henrietta of Henri London recently went on an extensive tour of organic cotton producers all over India, visiting entire chains of cotton production, including the above mentioned ones. You can see her journey here: https://www.facebook.com/henri.london.official/