HYDERABAD: There are a few sights which can make you feel cool at the peak of summer in Hyderabad. A row of eco-friendly, soft cotton sarees, in muted bright colours and pastels, is one of them. Malkha’s Mehdipatnam store was teeming with handloom enthusiasts recently who had come to hear about the journey of the brand from its founder Uzramma. The brand unveiled its latest summer collection ‘Thandai’ too.
Uzramma, who has been fighting to save native cotton varieties from one-size-fits-all machinery for some two decades now, established Malkha in 2005. Malkha’s mission is to present an evolved alternative to the industrial model of making cotton. To understand this better, we speak to Uzramma about her story.
“Before the mechanisation of handloom industry, each region used to produce its own yarn using cotton varieties specific to that region. Since the cotton was spun locally, there were different varieties of cotton. After the industrial revolution, a new kind of machinery was introduced which can spin only one kind of cotton.
After we lost many indigenous varieties this way, people are now waking up to the crisis. Protection of desi cotton is what Malkha is about, but I cannot say that we have made very large strides in this. Making machinery suited for local cotton is a very big project. We need help from the government and other stakeholders.
However, we succeeded in reducing the scale of the spinning mill, so that it matches the scale of the cotton farmer. The goal of the Malkha initiative is to put all aspects of production, including management, in the hands of the producers, the people who do the actual work. In other words, our aim is to achieve true democracy in production,” says the brand founder.
Talking about the new collection, Uzramma says: “We created a collection of fresh summer pastels to highlight the open and breathable nature of Malkha fabric. We also think that when Malkha is used in flowing summer dresses and shirts, the unique fall and drape of our unbaled and unpressed cotton truly comes to life. The fact that the lighter colours of the Thandai collection are easy on our ageing weavers’ eyes makes the collection exceptionally close to our hearts!”