Kamal Haasan’s new label, KH House of Khaddar, spotlights khadi to contemporise it
We speak with the actor and co-founder, Amritha Ram, about the new venture and their impending Paris Fashion Week debut
Khadi is a fabric that is rooted in Indian history. Associated with languid shaped and muted colours, KH House of Khaddar is here to challenge and alter this stereotype by giving the fabric a makeover. Founded by veteran actor Kamal Haasan with his costume stylist and designer Amritha Ram, the label is presenting khadi cut in sharp silhouettes and rendered in punchy colours and statement ombrés. Taking pride in the fabric synonymous with India, they are putting it on the global map with their upcoming and exciting debut at Paris Fashion Week.
We speak with Kamal Haasan and Amritha Ram about their new venture and get a peek into their PFW collection.
Tell us a little about your label, House of Khadaar? Why and how did the idea for it come from?
Kamal Haasan: My connection with fashion and apparel started with my film career. I have never been part of any advertising campaign, except recently, in my 60-years long career. But part of some of my films were known for their sense of style. I have been responsible for some of the brands coming to Chennai from Bombay through my films. My connection with Mr.Gandhi and the khadi fabric is deep. Though it came to me later in my life, it felt like serendipity in my mind. Along with khadi, came the pride – the fact that it's so instrumental in our freedom struggle. It makes me proud to present a fabric that runs through my father, my grandfather and generations before that. I find a sense of pride in taking it to the world.
What drew you towards khadi? Was it your intention to break from that stereotypical image of khadi?
Amritha Ram: Though I am trained as a fashion designer, I have been working as a costume designer with the kind of mentors people dream of. I always try to understand what the DOPs look for in a fabric from their perspective, and one thing that stands out is texture. That's how I started falling in love with the textural element, which comes across so well in khadi. But I wanted to do something that made it different, and what better than colour? I added an ombre colour to it and realised that it is a very versatile fabric, and we can do anything with it.
So when we started experimenting with it, the first step was to bust the myth that khadi is boring and about muted colours and patterns. We wanted to break the stereotype, and we did it with colours. We used A/W colours for our first collection, Nunool. The patterns were contemporary because we wanted to show the world, and most importantly to our country, the possibilities with khadi, and I think we did that successfully. We set new standards for khadi.
With Paris Fashion Week (PFW) on the horizon, how are you translating this fabric rooted in India to create designs that cater to a global audience?
Amritha Ram: With PFW, KH House of Khaddar is proudly presenting khadi denim. It is out of the box, but with a mentor and teacher like Kamal Haasan sir spearheading it, nothing is impossible. He comes up with these ideas, and I put my knowledge and technicality into them. It then expands from an idea to a strong base that we construct on. For PFW, we have dyed the khadi in pop colours. Who would have imagined that? We are super excited to present this collection because everything you look for in a spring-summer from KHHK is present. The global audience is going to love it simply because texturally, it has got so much grain and depth. That's why we have called this collection Warp and Weft. I’m sure everyone's going to love it.