In this interview, we hoist ourselves on a time machine and travel ten years forwards. Why ten years? Why not two, three or seven? In a world, where we’ve turned time into a ladder to climb, the “ten-year question” is an important denominator. At Khara Kapas, we
invert this notion on its head,
inviting time to play with us, instead.
A now teenage Khara Kapas, sits across the table from her founder Shilpi Yadav, to find out more about the woman who created her. She pesters Shilpi to pinpoint one quality that makes Khara Kapas unique while discovering a spectrum of ideas that gave birth to her.
Q1. Khara Kapas (KK): What does creativity mean to you?
Creativity is when you don't polish your school shoes. It is a form of self-expression, a place where there are no rules, rights or wrongs. When you stay close to your heart, you find a way of expressing your emotions through a medium and that is creativity.
Q2. Khara Kapas (KK): You’ve said in many places that it was your passion to create that lead you to envision Khara Kapas. What was it that you wanted to create in Khara Kapas?
I had no target or plan for Khara Kapas. What I did possess was a passion for creating and designing. I stayed true to my heart and my natural design instinct. I began by designing for my personal wardrobe and recycled the pieces I made to create distinct looks. I did not look into the future with trends and forecasting for that never went down well with me.
I prefer to opt for the comfort of now, the joys to celebrate in every moment and the practicalities and needs of one's circumstances. Cotton has always been a staple with me for its endurance and breathability.
It was this confidence and passion that led me to take my art beyond my wardrobe and start a clothing label that was an extension of the style of my person.
Q3. Khara Kapas (KK): What does femininity mean to you?
Femininity for me is the freedom to make your own decisions and to have your own say in whatever one does in life. It is the confidence that comes from the freedom of one's own decisions.
Q4. Khara Kapas (KK): Is femininity bound to creativity? How does this translate to design?
It’s everything I stated above. When there is freedom to make one's own decision, to set one's own rules and carve one's own path, then you stay true to yourself and your heart. This faith sets the sparks to creativity.
Q5. Khara Kapas (KK): You’ve said before that small weavers are the cornerstone of Indian art heritage. How do you feel the purity of Indian textile art can meet modernity in the Indian context?
What is modernity? It’s a state of mind. India is known for its rich heritage and textile art. It is what we are known for. And we are now bringing it to the forefront because we want to stay true to ourselves. This is our state of mind, where we want to go back to the beginning and that is modernity.
For example, at Kharakapas we have always focused on going back to the basics, to the simplicity of Indian design language. We work with the best artists and fabric to create a narrative for timeless fashion. I enjoy focusing on my roots, the things I have seen and felt while growing up and representing these visions and memories through my designs.
Q6. Khara Kapas (KK): I’ve always dressed in cotton since I was little and I love it. I know that you love cotton yourself and that one of your earliest memories is that of raiding your mother’s closet for her mulmul. Is the magic of cotton in memory alone? What makes it so special?
Cotton comes to my mind when I think of comfort and it is a fabric that I have known of since I was a little kid. Whether it was the school uniform that we wore as kids or those cute little jumpsuits my mom would stitch at home for us, they were all in cotton. Indian summers are harsh and there is no other fabric that is a better fit. It is pure, it is simple and will remain relevant for its practicality. Cotton has stayed with me all through and for me, fashion is about the right combination of creativity, personal style and comfort.
Q7. Khara Kapas (KK): What does fair trade mean? How can we know we’ve played fair?
At Kharakapas we have resolved to work with Indian crafts and the handloom industry. We try to do our part by promoting fair trade and attempt to preserve India’s ancient crafts and honour them through our work. We promote greater equity in our trading partnerships through dialogue, transparency, and respect for those we work with. We build long-term mutually beneficial working relationships with our vendors. We see a very positive trend with a desire in people to support this kind of practice.
Q8. Khara Kapas (KK): How do you define freedom?
For me, it is the ability to make one’s own decision.
Q9. Khara Kapas (KK): What does confidence mean to you? Is self-doubt a bad thing?
Doubt is never a bad thing. In my understanding we all question our own decisions, it keeps us on track and stops us from making a decision that we regret later. It’s good to be one's, own critic.
Q10. Khara Kapas (KK): What does it mean to be successful?
I do not know what success is, I can't define it. I feel blessed and happy that I was able to pursue my dreams and envision my thoughts. I am at a happy place in life with kharakapas by my side and that state of peace and satisfaction is a success. It is the freedom to choose and carve my own path.
Q12. What is your favourite place to live in?
My favourite place is where my home is with my precious, loved ones.