What is Kala Cotton?Kala Cotton is the pure old form of cotton fabric Khamir's Kala Cotton Initiative encourages sustainable cotton textile production, and the preservation of agricultural and artisan livelihoods in Kachchh.
Completely rain-fed and growing naturally even in the arid, drought-prone areas of Kutch, where there is less than 40 cm of rainfall, its high drought tolerance imposes minimal or no demand on scarce water resources, which makes it extremely water efficient, which makes it Ecological footprint much lower as compared to other varieties of cotton. Kala cotton is usually available in plain weaves with or without woven stripes and motifs, and even in twill weave.
Its coarse texture against the skin is a reminder of the tenacity with which it survives in the arid landscape. It lends itself well to natural dyes. Khamir began research in 2008. At the time, local varieties were being mixed with long staple fibers to increase yarn strength. By December 2011, a pure form of the textile was launched at a solo exhibit by Khamir called ‘Retelling The Stories of Kutch’ at Chinmaya Mission Hall, New Delhi.
Kala cotton takes dye brilliantly, Indigo dyeing is done in layers and layers and the effect is much richer on kala cotton than normal cotton. The first kala cotton khadi denim piece made at 11.11 was far more vibrant, in color and texture, than samples in regular cotton. Natural dye played a role but, it was the cotton that made the difference.
The benefits of Kala Cotton are :
1. No wastage of water resources: Helps in saving water resources does not demand extra water supply.
2. Healthier soil quality: Kala cotton demands use of less natural resources and is resistant to drought.
3. High tolerance for both disease and pests: Is organic crop produced naturally is high tolerant to both disease and pests.
4. Strong, durable and stretchable: As Fabric requires less resources since provides good quality textile because of its short staple length.
5. Sustain farmers and artisanal livelihood: To produce the crop, the farmers and artisans work on the field of Kala cotton, are not exposed to any chemicals. This process provides them with a non-toxic working environment and allows them to cultivate the crop, that is completely sustainable and organic.
- The use of cotton in the Indian subcontinent dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization. Some fragments of handwoven cotton have also been found in the ruins of Mohenjodaro. These are dated back to 5000 BCE.
- There is iconographic evidence that shows the use of cotton in different styles being used at the time of Harappa civilization. Around 1000 CE Gujrati trades in India started exporting cotton towards east.
- This cotton is the present day Kala Cotton around that time Chinese ships took cotton to china. Indian cotton was the largest manufactured product from the time of the Roman Empire to the nineteenth century. Europeans wanted the cotton but they had nothing which India needed, hence they had to pay in silver and gold. When East India company colonized India around 17th century.
- Europeans started buying cotton from India and bringing the woven cotton back to India. The East India companies imposed laws that forced the sellers in India to sell cotton only to particular buyers. The local spinning and weaving industry in India dies because of no availability of raw material for Indians.
- In 19th century British Raj took over India, the Britishers start getting machine made cotton cloths and sell them in cheap rates. Due to this took away the livelihood of millions of women who earn through spinning yarn. Cotton was the main source of income for people in India.
- When India became independent, 97% of the cotton grown in India was indigenous. Today, only 2% of the cotton grown in India is indigenous. Kala cotton is short staple tahn the long-staple American cotton was introduced in India when it became independent. In 2002, genetically modified BT cotton(genetically modified resistant plant cotton variety) took over and the indigenous cotton production fell to 25% of the total cotton produced.
- Indigenous cotton is native to India. Kala cotton of Kutch, formerly known as Wagad cotton, is native to Gujrat and is by default organic because the farmers do not use any chemical-based pesticides and fertilizers. It is a purely rain-fed crop that has a high tolerance for both disease and pests.
- This makes it better for the farmers because they get to work in chemical-free fields and produce the highest quality product. It works for the consumer because the get a great product that is grown in a sustainable way. In recent years, people have started spreading information about the importance and benefit of using organic cotton.
- Many designers are working towards introducing organic cotton in their collections. Slowly, Kala cotton is creating a new identity in the market.
The preservation of agricultural and artisan livelihoods in Kutch necessitated raw material that was locally grown, environment-friendly and could potentially create social value.
What Makes it Stand Out
Kala Cotton is a fabric that allows us to take a step towards sustainable living, as the process is purely Eco-friendly till it’s end process. To produce this crop no pesticides and synthetic fertilizers are utilized as it is purely rain-fed cotton; It can serve as the stepping stone towards healthier living and conscious support for many farmers, workers and designers and consumers at the same time.
The uniqueness of Kala cotton was highlighted by Khamir, a nongovernmental organization established in Kukma, Bhuj after the 2001 earthquake. A joint initiative of Kachchh Nav Nirman Abhiyan and the Nehru Foundation for Development, Khamir was formally registered under the Societies and Trust Acts in 2005.
Socio-economic imbalance created by increasing industrialization and mass production on one hand and the decline of traditional production systems and local partnerships on the other, Khamir initiated the Kala Cotton Initiative in collaboration with Satvik, an association of organic farmers in Kutch, to support farmers there through links with small-scale weavers.
Can be used to make an organic dress, organic cotton scarf, organic diary and many more.
Application & Usage