For Designer Shani Himanshu, creative director of indie label 11.11/eleven eleven, jeans have always been a passion. Having worked as a consultant with brands like Diesel, Levi’s and Gas Jeans, it was his experience that led him to create a collection of handmade denim. Created in association with Arvind Mills, the range is completely hand-crafted, uses very little electricity and reinforces his firm’s commitment to sustainable fashion.
When Shani and design partner Mia Morikawa showcased this collection, “100% HANDMADE” at Lakme Fashion Week in March, the message was clear — wearing designer denim may be hip, but donning a pair of eco-friendly signature jeans is the epitome of cool.
“We all wear denims. I think it’s good to wear something that’s has soul and character,” says Shani, of the unique line that celebrates the human touch, with its hand-spun yarn, hand-woven textile and a hand-stitched final product.
If you think the eco-friendly jeans movement is a passing fad, likely to fade faster than the indigo dye on your favourite pair of true blues, think again. Veteran designer Rajesh Pratap Singh has been making denim for export for a few years now. He married his love for khadi with denim over two years ago, and introduced his first khadi denim line.
What started as a partnership with Arvind Limited is today a dedicated collection, with Singh sourcing part of the raw material from Arvind and spinning, weaving and dyeing the rest at his weaving centre in Neemrana, Rajasthan. “For us, it’s not just another fashion product. Khadi is an individualist fabric with a lot of history, a textile that is eco-friendly and innately Indian. And with this handmade, no-machine intervention line of jeans, we are creating a pure Indian product,” says Singh.
It’s this resurgence of the Indian identity that is proving to be a catalyst for the khadi denim movement, with manufacturers also throwing their weight behind the initiative. Both Singh and 11.11/eleven eleven participated in a fashion show in April, titled ‘Denim India Made’, organised by the Denim Manufacturer’s Association.
The primary focus was on authentic khadi denim. “India has been manufacturing denim for companies all over the world, according to their specifications and needs, with nothing intrinsically Indian in the final product. Just as how Japanese, Italian and American denim have unique identities, we want to make something which is originally from India,” says Rajesh Gupta, creative head, Arvind Limited, denim division.
With the support