Exclusive: Kamal Haasan eases into role as fashion designer, eyes NRI market in Dubai and Abu Dhabi for label’s expansion



Kamal Haasan, actor-politician, entered the fashion industry with his brand KH House of Khaddar in 2018. A joint venture between him and designer Amritha Ram, the label was received well at international shows in Paris, New York, and Las Vegas. Khadi’s character of being soft and sober was recreated – for the global consumer – to suit office wear and trendy outfits, with an enviable colour palette and even a tone replicating denim.

House of Khaddar is heading to New York Fashion Week this September, and for the ardent followers, there’s another profile, another contour, and a
very modern outlook waiting to be unveiled. In the near future, plans are also on to open showrooms in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, not forgetting other markets in the Middle East. Europe is likely to see stores owned by partners, while in the US it would be a numbers game of expansion.

The south Indian movie star seems totally in control on the fashion stage. “Your aspirations make you,” he says. “I never considered myself a big star. I wanted to be a talent, a talent like those I have admired. I wanted to become a politician like those I have admired. Likewise, I wanted to do something for India, different from what I have been doing. I thought if Gandhiji, the lawyer, could think of khadi – the weave and the thread – why not indulge in something that would impact the livelihood of weavers?”

House of Khaddar works directly with the weavers and various craft communities, including block makers, printers, and G.I.-certified clusters. Kamal Haasan says he wanted to be a part of the great tradition that comes from the time of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. “We were one of the world’s earliest weavers, and we have such a rich tradition. I thought we should showcase it. I fell in love with the idea and pursued it,” he smiles.

Ask him about his personal style, he terms it as “simple”. “What I wear is what I like,” he says. “Anything that is suitable, and not too flamboyant, but presentable and eye-catching. That is all. As a teenager, I would press my nose against the glass windows of boutiques wishing for all the beautiful clothes on display. Obviously at that time, I couldn’t have bought any. Much later in life I realised they weren’t as expensive as I had thought. But with very little pocket money, it was still a dream. Now, when I can afford them, why not share the good stuff on a larger scale? The whole idea of House of Khaddar is to spread joy, and at the same time make money out of it,” says Haasan. Then he quickly corrects himself. “The ultimate goal is not money. This money is for the expansion of an idea – to grow international.”

He continues: “The oldest piece of khadi I own is not what I wear. It is my father’s shirt. He wore only khadi. An advocate by profession, he used to wear khadi to court – it was a political statement, and that’s when I saw how khadi could be fabricated into a coat and suit for a barrister! That stayed with me – the love for my father and his love for khadi became mine.”

Haasan’s knowledge of history is incredible as he explains how the Imperial British thumbed their nose up at khadi because it affected their textile industry. Also, khadi was looked upon by them as “not so cool”, while actually most European fashion evolved from the cradle of civilization. “With khadi you can make sustainable diapers that can comfort a baby. I wore a three-piece khadi suit in Chicago when the temperature was minus 3 degrees, and felt comfortable. That is khadi for you. It is an all-weather fabric,” Haasan says.

As far as stardom is concerned, khadi is a bigger star than himself, Haasan says laughing. “It is older and bigger because the whole nation looked up to khadi and its ambassador Mahatma Gandhi.”

Khadi should go to many people and probably become a business, not just a giveaway gift. “Amritha, who designs the outfits, has worked with me in movies. When I mentioned my father’s love of khadi to her, and my idea of making it fashionable even to the young generation of today, she took it seriously and came back with this fantastic concept. Think sustainability and khadi comes to mind. It belongs to everyone in the world, not just Indians. Which is why I came up with my brand and did not stop there. I am promoting it worldwide, for what really attracts the buyer is not the brand per se, but the designs,” Haasan sums up with confidence. – The writer is Consulting Editor of Nrifocus.com


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.