House of Wandering Silk has just released two styles of beautifully handcrafted Rabari-style kediya, and in the process inspired a closer look at this very elegant and increasingly visible garment.
The Rabari are tribal pastoralists, traditionally nomadic but now concentrated in the Kutch region of Gujarat and across northwest India. Beyond the deceptive simplicity of their herders' characteristic kediya — a lightweight cotton, gathered wrap overshirt or jacket — the Rabari are a stylish bunch, with a bewildering array of varied and intricate jewellery and embroidered garments; if you've ever heard tell of the richness of Kutch embroidery, it's the Rabari's doing.
In traditional usage, the kediya (or kedia) can range from a plain work garment — reminiscent of traditional European linen undergarments or smocks — to part of a highly ornate wedding outfit, heavily embroidered and made from costly materials. Its flattering silhouette, wearable construction and traditional origins mean it is increasingly entering into mainstream fashion, with brands such as Dosa refining the most basic form into a luxury piece while others embellish or extend the shape into something almost resembling a frock coat. While each traditional and modern permutation is striking in its own way, I find the herder's plain cotton style the most beautiful, accented with only a few pieces of silver jewellery — and a lot of dust.