the new black

..............is MALKHA Black, a handloom cotton khadi naturally dyed with iron to become a 21st century black. Atelier OM is developing a line to include black apparel that won't harm you, your planet or your wallet. Get ready to make the right choice for your wardrobe.                                                               


In the last few hundred years the weaving of cotton cloth in India on the handloom has had its ups and downs but has never died out. It has been weakened but not killed by mass-production on powerlooms. It is only when one wears powerloom fabrics that one notices the poor draping quality and harder feel. Dyes on powerloom cotton fabric also fade much quicker than on handloom.

Malkha - also called the freedom fabric - is pure cotton cloth which is woven using traditional methods as well as modern technology. The cloth, because it isn't heavily processed, retains its inherent texture, breathability, and springiness. It drapes well, and looks beautiful whether natural, colored, or printed. In short, it's cotton with character.

Cotton now is largely mass produced in spinning mills situated far away from where the cotton is actually grown. Once farmers have sold the cotton, they're cut out of the equation. Further, weavers working in these mills are no longer craftsmen with individuality. For a daily wage, their job is to weave as much homogenized, neutralized cotton cloth as possible.

Uzramma - the woman behind Malkha - is working to empower farmers and weavers by ensuring that production, dyeing, and weaving all take place in the same unit. Not only does this allow all those involved to be closer to the finished product, it also avoids environmentally harmful steps such as transportation, and the baling and unbaling of cotton - a process which uses heavy industrial machinery. In an interview with Mint, Uzramma said that what Malkha is doing is not "revivalism", rather, it is using the "strength of the Indian textile production traditions in a contemporary context."