Khadi & Co: More than just scarves

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Reviewed on 04/22/2011 | 2 Reviews

If Gandhi was to be reborn one day, this would be the place of choice: Khadi & Co, the lovely shop run by the Danish designer Bess Nielsen. When you pass by her charming boutique on rue Debelleyme in the Upper Marais, you might wonder what’s it all about. In the windows you often see only fabrics, very beautiful fabrics. Sometimes you see pots of indigo pigments. Often it’s all about one color. Khadi & Co is an intriguing place.

She realized a dream

Bess Nielsen opened Khadi & Co five years ago to realize a dream: to do what she loves most and create what she likes to wear herself, hand-woven scarves and cotton tunics, and, even better, creating jobs for Indian women spinning and weaving the wonderful fabrics in a traditional way.

Gandhi at the spinning wheel in 1925

Bess says: “I wanted to create an universe, but a very low-key one, I wanted go back to the essentials”. This is actually not at her first adventure. Bess used to work in the fashion industry. She designed for Kenzo and others, but she didn’t like the estrangement of the fashion milieu and one day she decided to set up her own business. She created Epice, a company producing only scarves and shawls, changing each season, a very successful business. Until October of last year, Epice had selling points all over but not a branded shop of its own. Back then, Bess opened her first unique Epice boutique at the Palais Royal. Yet somehow Epice was still linked to fashion and its ever changing moods. Too much so, in her mind. She wanted to go further.

Timeless and sumptuous

With Khadi & Co Bess moved on, launching something exquisite for a very exquisite clientele. A lot of Italians and Japanese swing by appreciating the quality of the hand-woven tunics and scarves mostly  in simple, essential colours like black, white, blue, beige and grey. The single items are definitely less fashionable than the colorful Epice products, they are more classical – and more exquisite.

The other day I saw a gorgeous dress woven in very thin cotton which was close to 500 Euros. But you get lovely scarves for less than 100 Euros, too. Still, that’s not a souvenir you’d buy for your mother-in-law, but it could be a beautiful present for yourself.

Beauty and independence

Bess is a great friend of India, traveling there about five times a year and an even greater fan of Mahatma Gandhi whose portraits you’ll find in her shop. The term khadi in India actually means cotton, handspun and hand-woven cotton. But it’s much more than this, it is, as you might know, the name of the movement that Gandhi started in order to improve India’s economy and its independence. The Khadi movement was aimed at boycotting foreign goods and promoted the spinning of khadi to generate rural self-employment and self-reliance.

Today, Khadi & Co is the life blood of whole villages in Kerala, Penjab and Bengal. That’s good news. It means that, somehow, you could end up doing a good deed with your shopping spree.

Khadi & Co Emporium
37, rue Debelleyme
75003 Paris
Tél: +33(0)1 42 74 71 32
Métro: Filles du Calvaire  
Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 am – 7 pm
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Khadi & Co: More than just scarves, 3.2 out of 5 based on 6 ratings

User reviews

  1. candace cornelius 14 February 2012 Reply

    I purchased the most wonderrful white blouse which is not only my favorute to wear, but also the envy of my friends!! I purchased it at the Standard de Luxe last year and did not know you had your own shop. I will be there inA pril and will stop in for sure, the cotton is the softest I have ever felt and the stype is perfect, full all with long sleeves, I wear it over everything.

  2. june allibone 31 January 2014 Reply

    I have two of your Kaftans, and need to order two more… do I go about this…they are my favourite.
    thank you June Allibone

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