Did the Khadi Festival last year go as planned for the Fashion Design Council of Bangladesh (FDCB)? We are very pleased to express our gratitude towards the Bangladeshi audience. They are very sensitive towards the organic, eco-friendly textiles. The khadi exhibition last December was a runway success because our audience received it so well.
What does FDCB have planned for this year? We want to have another Khadi Festival by the end of this year. We feel that it is important to encourage and promote hand-woven fabrics because they usually support large communities of artisans who are weaving. At the same time, these eco-friendly fabrics are more comfortable and breathe better. They are handmade - meaning manually produced; hence, both men and women are facilitated with income generation at every step of the manufacturing process. If we can really support the idea of handmade, hand-woven green textiles, I think we will find buyers in both Bangladesh and abroad, given the global demand of eco-friendly materials at the moment.
What are you hoping to achieve through a second phase of the festival? We want to promote our handloom and textiles, along with our ingenuity in designs. We also want to promote our original ideas, and Bangladesh as a fashion brand. We really need to explore the niche market for these handspun, eco-friendly products because after all, we are one of the poorest countries in the world. Our people in the rural areas don't have capital for investment. And this is something that doesn't require money and if it is well sought after, and a product of prestige, we can actually create a huge demand for these items. And our hard working weavers and spinners will be benefited too.
How will this year's festival be different than that of last year's? The ideas, the stories and the colours behind this year's festival will be different. We are also planning to invite new designers from Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Myanmar and Thailand. We want to give it a larger canvas this year. We will definitely be showcasing our special khadi fabric at the festival but at the same time, we are also importing khadi yarns from India of very high quality for making saris. After all, saris are like an heirloom to us, they never go out of style.
How is our khadi different than the khadi produced in India? Unfortunately, very little of fine quality khadi is produced in Bangladesh. But once the concept catches on, we will have better equipments and technology, and khadi of better quality will be produced here soon enough. Normally, in Bangladesh, a khadi or cotton sari will cost around Tk3,000-Tk4,000, but the ones featured in our shows last year were Tk12,000-Tk15,000, because each yarn is hand spun and hand woven, with a lot of value addition. And people just snapped it up. In Bangladesh, there's a huge fascination for cotton over synthetics, because of the weather mostly being humid.
What other projects do you have in the pipeline? We want to do a nationwide activation to organise a competition for young designers. We want to encourage the young generation to take fashion designing more seriously. Sometimes they don't get the opportunity or exposure. We want to help them get their portfolios accessible by our local design houses where they may also get an internship. We can tie them up with banks which will educate them on how to take a loan, launch a company, etc. We just want to give these young designers a platform where they will be exposed to the media, the corporate world, and as well as the design houses.