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Kaskom: Growing the Cotton of Good

Kaskom is reviving desi cotton, creating a sustainable value chain and producing fabric that is guilt-free, timeless and so natural, it could be your second skin.

At Kaskom, artisans are involved in creating fabric that is free from chemicals right from the time of cultivation to textile processing, and they use natural colours that are truly skin-friendly. Another significant focus of the brand is to revive other textile-based crafts in South India.

From farm to fibre to slow-fashion.

Kaskom is for the mindful and for those who would like their clothes to last a lifetime. It’s for slow-fashionistas who appreciate the process and don’t mind spending an extra buck on something they see value in, not only for themselves but also for the circular economy it supports. Kaskom is for the curious, for those who love the journey of a fabric and the many stories and secrets its weaves hold.

From farm to the final product (xplorium)

Going back to India’s 5000-year-old roots and reviving a formula that made us the global leaders of cotton, is Kaskom, a Tamil Nadu-based Farm to Fabric initiative. A venture founded by an Organic Farming enthusiast, V Swaminathan, who created a network of Khadi people across the country to procure and produce indigenous cotton.

In the early 2000s, Swaminathan successfully saved Karunganni cotton from the verge of extinction with the help of a few Perambur-based organic farmers. During his travels, he learned about a small section of farmers in the country’s rainfed regions who had taken interest in the revival of indigenous cotton. Desi cotton(G.herbaceum), unlike American cotton, is resilient to drought and pests. It can be cultivated organically, providing a safe and sustainable livelihood for farmers.

A cotton-picker carefully harvesting the crop. (Kaskom)

Swaminathan’s social enterprise and organic brand Kaskom produces hand-woven and hand-spun fabrics and works towards revitalizing the Indian native cotton value chain. The essence of this handmade fabric is the patience with which the cotton is slowly woven and spun into yarn. Kaskom is for people who believe in the process, appreciate its significance and see value in the fabric’s journey.

The founder and owner of Kaskom – Swaminathan Vaithilinagam. (Kaskom)

Fabric of Freedom

“Do spin and spin after due deliberation.” 
– Gandhi

The agriculture of cotton has been interlaced into the fabric of India and its independence. Right from Mahatma Gandhi’s freedom (Swadeshi) movement that was based on cotton economics, to being one of the largest cotton producers in the world today, the importance of this cash crop is unparalleled in India.

The British introduced American cotton (G. hirsutum) into India in 1790 and soon after independence, its cultivation rose up to 97%. Fortunately, today these numbers are slowly declining. Farmers are now searching for indigenous cotton because it is more suitable for the country’s rainfed region.

A group of spinners using the Amber Charkha to spin the yarn. (Kaskom)

Fabric of Livelihood

Cotton farming employs about 25 million people in India while its industries develop some of the finest cotton fabric in the world. The importance of cotton in both agriculture and industry is unrivalled.

A cotton-picker carefully harvesting the crop. (Kaskom)

The problem? Only a marginalised percentage of these farmers procure Indian desi seeds and cultivate desi cotton. Fortunately, a handful of varieties like Jayadhar cotton of Karnataka, Karunganni cotton of Tamil Nadu, Waghad cotton of Gujarat, Konda pathi and Erapathi cotton of Andhra are slowly finding their way back into Indian farms.

Kaskom is a model that showed farmers how they could cultivate desi cotton organically and conduct intercropping that would ensure a safe and sustainable livelihood. Today, Kaskom is inevitably growing closer to its goal of reviving indigenous cotton and creating a sustainable value chain. Here’s a doodle representation of what they do:

Kaskom work process. (Kaskom)

Fabric of Patience

At present, we see fashion lovers drifting closer to sustainable options and conscious fabrics. Instead of chasing trends that eat up a planet, consumers are rethinking their relationship with clothes, preferring enduring classic styles and versatile pieces that reduce their carbon footprint. 

Fabrics made from desi cotton & naturally dyed. (Kaskom)

Kaskom is for those who are mindful and would like their clothes to last a lifetime. It’s for slow-fashionistas who appreciate the process and don’t mind spending that extra buck on something they see value in.

Kaskom is for the curious, for those who love the journey of a fabric and the many stories and secrets its weaves hold.

Kaskom’s breathable fabrics are apt for the Indian climate and would suit the minimalist movement. It is about time that we chose our cotton consciously. 

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Written by Xplorium

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