Clothes are second skin and help us communicate our fashion stories to others. This is a very important function that clothes serve; however most important purpose of clothes is to protect and comfort the wearer. Comfort which is tactile in case of textiles and clothes; the way it feels on the body when worn. The psychological comfort derived from making mindful choices and making a difference each time one buys, consumes and discards clothes. In turn being recognized as a mindful slow getter who embraces slow fashion in everyday life.
The Indian concept of Ghar ke Kapde (clothes for home wear) is frugal, hygienic and comforting at once. People change the outdoor clothes which may carry dust, outside contaminants and slip into clean home wear clothes which are often well used. Home clothes become softer due to several wash cycles and wears; relaxed fit to lounge around at home, prolonged use often distresses the fabric, fades the colour and print making it less presentable to be worn outside or while meeting
people. The trends like anti-fit and distress washes have emerged from the perceived comfort that these well-loved clothes afford. Indeed, a good slow fashion practice to extend the clothes usage for a longer time. Wouldn’t it be good fun, wearing the handwoven relaxed fit clothes, designed with fine details and finish outside the home; and feel as comfortable, presentable and business-like as well?
The traditional pattern cutting system practiced in India and many Asian countries is very geometric with panels, this gives roomy silhouettes which allow for ease of movement and let the skin breathe in the tropical weather. The traditional silhouettes like the Kurta (Tunic) , Kimono (overlapped robe), Kaftan (loose tunic) Pyjama ( Loose trousers), Kediyu (Smock Bodice) , Bandi (Bias cut vest) are unisex and inspirational for the relaxed fashion directions. The relaxed fit garments like the smock tunic, crop tops, saris, dhotis, loose trousers, boxy jackets are forgiving too. In the sense that it allows a slight fluctuation in body shape and size and balances the self-esteem as the world embraces body positivity.
The joy of slipping on a smock like tunic dress and Kaftan which lets you breathe easily; without constricting waist, bust or hips, allows easy movements, no tedious fastenings nor overtly embellished surfaces. Clever use of soft elastics, drawstring, tie up and buttons to keep the garment secure without hindering freedom of movement. It can be dressed up or down, layered, co-ordinated and accessorised to suit your mood; it also becomes a versatile wardrobe essential. You can have overlapped closures, avoid use of zippers or chunky buckles to make it more effortless.
Easy relaxed fit trousers either cropped or full length comes close to Pyjamas (Indian loose trousers) like roomy comfort fit, yet a trouser to give you business like appearance and yet not a very stiff fit like a snug skinny jeans or straight-fit tailored formal trouser. These relaxed fit trousers when made from a breathable handloom or Khadi fabric in indigenous cotton, takes the comfort to the next level, adds this beautiful inherent texture and supports rural livelihoods too.
Co-ordinated handwoven crop tops to pair with handwoven sari or relaxed fit trouser or a skirt. The versatile pieces paired well with most of the favourite pieces in your wardrobe. Yet each piece with unique story to create a special fashion look. Boxy jackets, gilets and shrugs to add that extra relaxed, drapey, slouchy , color blocked or co- ordinated layer to take the look a notch higher or keep you warm stylishly.
The handwoven dhoti and sari lend itself as a very versatile and sustainable garment which adds a very compelling and comforting grace to the wearer. The dhoti and sari is a one size fits all kind of a garment and hence can be worn for a longer time by the same wearer (despite change in body size) or shared, swapped and passed on to the next generation. The comfort of the soft handloom fabric on the body as it envelopes the wearer so beautifully in a draping style to one’s liking; for wearing several hours in a single day and allows for relaxed movement for various activities like home, farm as well as office work and commute in the city.
Awareness about the slow process involved in making the handmade clothes brings an appreciation for the people and skills involved; therefore, the inherent value it holds for the maker (crafts persons, designers, pattern-makers, tailors etc) as well as the actual garment which is an outcome of love and hard work. The wearers who have embraced practices of mindful consumption and slow fashion do realize the value of investing in handmade clothes which give the comfort of wearing for longer hours and wearing it often, easy maintenance and aftercare. Easy to breathe handwoven and Khadi fabrics translated in relaxed fit silhouettes encompass trans-seasonal layering for lasting slow and comfortable fashion.
Dr Vaibbhavi Pruthviraj Ranavaade