Kala cotton is a purely rain fed and carbon neutral crop, resilient to even the harshest of weather conditions. A short staple cotton variety indigenous to Kutch, India, the crop uses no pesticides and synthetic fertilisers. In addition to being completely organic and energy efficient, it provides livelihoods to farmers given its hardy nature that requires minimal investment. However, over the years, the demand for Kala cotton had declined as genetically modified cotton flooded the markets with the advent of fast fashion.
As a result, the expertise to grow and process Kala cotton has been lost, with very few artisans left who can operate the traditional handloom to create quality fabrics. The very ecosystem that supported thousands of artisans and farmers has literally been hanging by a thread.
A brief look into the history of the crop reveals that cotton samples found at the Mohenjo Daro site dated c.2750-3000 BCE indicate the source to be a plant closely related to Gossypium arboreum type, which was a dominant strain of native (desi) cotton in India. Kala cotton (Gossypium herbaceum) is considered to be one such variety of indigenous old world cotton that was being exported to Great Britain when the cultivation of long staple variety of cotton led to a complete disruption of the value chain and destroyed the home-grown industry. These exports eventually ceased as well due to the availability of cheaper and faster cotton fabrics
Not all is lost though; over the last decade there has been a silent resurgence of the crop as small and independent designers have started looking for sustainable raw materials to develop conscious collections. The Kala cotton fabric is durable and soft to touch, ideal for creating wardrobe staples and home textiles. Championed by Khamir (a craft collaborative in Gujarat, India), Kala cotton has slowly but surely made it’s way back to the design studios. The fashion landscape in India is changing with an increasing number of brands opting for desi cotton varieties and hand-woven fabrics. In doing so, they are helping bring back the original organic cotton crop whilst also supporting the supply chain between the farmers, ginners, spinners and weavers. Khamir is in the process of registering the Kala Cotton trademark.
ConsciousCue is working with brands that create products using Kala Cotton and other forms of native cotton varieties in India that are grown in harmony with the environment. Explore their Organic and Indigenous collection to discover these brands.