Delhi-based brand 11.11’s regular blue jeans is a unique garment manufactured from an indigenous variety of cotton called ‘kala cotton’ that is cultivated without using pesticides. Grown in Kutch, this cotton is then hand-spun in Saurashtra and dispatched to Auroville in Puducherry for dyeing with natural indigo. Its again transported back to Saurashtra where it is woven and finally sent to Delhi where it is stitched by hand. Designers Shani Himanshu and Mia Morikawa and co-founders of the label, launched Khadi Denim five years ago.
Himanshu explains, kala cotton doesn’t need irrigation or cultivation and relies entirely on rainfall. It is sowed after the first rainfall and takes two more rainfalls to grow. The crop yields short-staple yarn, which absorbs colour beautifully and is transformed during dyeing.
Short staple cotton yields an uneven yarn — this is a drawback — however, the yarn is strong, coarse and stretchable. As time passes, the hand-woven textile made of this yarn takes the shape of the body and becomes like a second skin. As the fabric fades, it softens the hand stitches, which becomes clear revealing its handmade character. Khadi denim makes its buttons from recycled brass coins of 1, 5 and 20 paisa denomination. To ensure the final product reveals its origin, it’s packed in a ‘route box’ which contains several glass vials filled with bits of hand-spun yarn, indigo, plus tags, a booklet on Khadi Denim and a notebook made from recycled waste generated during the manufacturing process.
Explaining why it is not expensive, given the fact that it is 100 per cent handmade Himanshu says they invested several months to create a product whereas, in mass production industry, the maximum time involved is 60 days. Everything is done manually by artisans across regions. They also sell only a limited number; so there is an attached cost at the retailer’s end. The price is not that much compared to its value.
The people are trained for three-four months to construct a garment and it takes about 7 to10 days to stitch it. The beauty of the process is that they acquire the knowledge of making the garment. An Italian Sarto (tailor) will hand-construct the whole jacket before stitching it.