Reviving the lost legacy of Reja fabric

Written by Simran Bagga

Until recently the fashion scene all over the world was dictated by the West. European countries have always been a source of inspiration for designers all over the globe but the Indian heritage has been brought to the forefront only due to the conscious efforts of some Indian designers. One such initiative is Daksh, led by Lalita Chaudhary who has done extensive research on the ancient Reja fabric that had lost relevance about 150 years ago. In this exclusive interview, she describes the need for reviving this lost legacy of our textile-rich motherland

What is Reja and what is its relevance today?

Reja is a hand-spun yarn, which vanished due to industrialisation. We are making all efforts to get it revived worldwide; Reja is processed from raw cotton directly. It carries the basic quality of cotton. Hence, it can be donned in every season as it remains cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The fabric adjusts itself with outside temperature and reacts accordingly. No chemical is used in preparing the fabric that leads to minimising the skill-related issues too.

What is the ancient history associated with this fabric?

Reja has been mentioned in ancient scriptures from Rig Veda to Garibdassi Granth. Rig Veda mentions that this fabric must be hand spun by prisoners punished for various crimes. Keeping this in mind we are running a special project at the District Jails in Rohtak and Jhajjar where prisoners are making Reja dresses after training.

How is Reja sustainable?

Reja is made by raw cotton and isn’t chemically processed. While on one hand a lot of water is wasted in manufacturing cotton, there is no water wastage in making Reja.

What is the difference between Reja and Khaadi?

One can process Reja to create Khaadi. Reja is more consumer-friendly as it can be dyed in all bright colours whereas Khaadi cannot.

How is the international fashion market responding to Reja?

Daksh collaborated with US-based boutique Enrootz and launched this traditional Haryanavi fabric at New York Fashion Week, 2017. Foreign models showcased Reja dresses at a global platform for the first time and the appreciation was overwhelming.

What is your vision regarding Reja’s future?

It is a sad matter of affairs that we as Indians are unaware of our rich inheritance. My primary aim is to reiterate the qualities of this lost fabric in front of the world. In a time when fashion industry is responsible for polluting Earth by their hazardous waste; eco-friendly and sustainable Reja can prove to be a boon.

About the author

Simran Bagga

Simran Bagga Journalist whose area of specialisation is art and culture.

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