What can be a better message on this Independence Day than one that urges you to go back to India’s roots and embrace the Swadeshi movement? Though many of us have forgotten about this movement, Siddharth Mohan Nair, a law student from Palakkad district, is not ready to give up on Gandhian principles yet.
This young man himself has adopted the Swadeshi principle and is strict follower of that. It is the strong desire to follow this principle that led him to start ‘Desitude’- the complete Khadi jeans store. This final year law student at Madras Law College wants to make traditional clothing attractive to the youth.
“For the past 4 or 5 years, I have been a strict follower of the Gandhian way of living and I only wear Khadi. In Delhi, I was also influenced by the Anna Hazare movement. A strong desire to promote Khadi has been burning inside me from a long time. Normally, when it comes to Khadi, the present generation always says that there is nothing trendy about it and terms it a fabric that the earlier generation wore. I came across a new concept in Khadi called the Denim Khadi. So I thought, Denim is what the youth is attracted to and there is no need to add starch like in traditional Khadi. This is how Desitude was formed. Currently, we are into Khadi jeans and shorts. We are also in the process of making Khadi dungarees, skirts and jackets,” he says.
Desitude sources Khadi from Sarvodaya Sangh and the stitching part is done in an eco-friendly way. One specialty of Desitude is that it provides customised jeans. The stitching is done according to the measurements provided by the customer. And the jeans are handcrafted.
“Desitude’s jeans are made out of hand-spun, hand woven Khadi Denim fabric, which is hand-cut and hand-stitched to the customer’s measurement by a tailor and not an automated machine,” Mr. Siddharth added.
Desitude promotes an eco-friendly way of living. For every jeans it sells, one tree is planted.
“It is our policy to plant a tree sapling for every pair of jeans we sell. ‘A tree for a jean’ is part of our eco-friendly policy, giving back to nature, at least a part of what she gives us. Another aspect of our eco-friendly policy is that we are using jute for packaging. We are also working on coconut fibre, as an option for packaging,” Siddharth says.
When it comes to the coloring of the material, at present synthetic dyes are being used. But there is a plan to replace it with natural colours like vegetable dye.
Even though the cost of ordinary Khadi is a little high, Siddharth’s Desitude provides high quality Denim jeans at an affordable price. It also looks just like the regular jeans available in the market. But what sets these jeans apart is the fact that they are Swadeshi. The cost of a pair of jeans is around Rs.3,500.
Desitude sells its products through its Facebook page or WhatsApp. After making the payment and providing the measurements, the stitched package would reach the customer in 10 days.
In the sending of the package too, there is a Swadeshi touch. All the couriers are sent only through India Post.
“The principle behind it is that India Post a service that is being used less nowadays. As a Swadeshi enterprise, we utilise their services,” he says.
Siddharth is also a die-hard fan of Mahatma Gandhi and C. Rajagopalachari. Siddharth also wears the dhoti, after being inspired by Rajagopalachari.
“I only start my day after praying to both Gandhiji and Rajaji. I used to wear Khadi pyjamas earlier. But after I completed reading Rajaji’s biography, I was inspired by his way of living. He used to wear dhotis everywhere. So I shifted wear dhotis too. The first inspiration came to me when I visited Rajaji’s ashram at Thiruchengode, Tamil Nadu, a few years ago. When I went there, I saw the weaving process of Khadi. I noticed a very old man who was weaving there. He doesn’t have a proper vision also it seemed. But, still he was giving everything to Khadi. So, I was personally attracted to Khadi,” Siddharth said.
Desitude jeans are crafted from selvedge Khadi Denim, which is unique and different from raw Denim. Raw Denim is made without the use of water at any stage. But it is a little difficult to try that with Khadi Denim, as there is a tendency for it to shrink after wash.
“So, here what we do is, before stitching we wash every material 3 or 4 times, to avoid shrinking. Selvedge Khadi Denim is made using a shuttle loom. It is a manual one. Here, the ends of the cloth are again stitched to avoid the thread coming out. Desitude offers a 10% discount on all its items from August 15-17, due to Independence Day,” he says.
What Siddharth and his Desitude do is recall the past glory of an entire nation. Mahatma Gandhi and others wanted to make India self-dependent. Such initiatives are a reminder for us to cherish those who made this Independence Day possible.