While the world is intended to make us want more all the time, sustainability is the way forward. When it comes to fashion, it has many names- sustainable fashion, eco fashion, slow fashion, conscious fashion, but what exactly is this alternate fashion movement and why is it important?
Quoting Purvi Doshi whose eponymous label highlights sustainability in fashion by employing cruelty-free materials and collaborating with local artisans to create hand-crafted pieces “It is vital to ensure sustainability of life on Earth. Man is the most superior animal and he has proven this time and again by taking away jungles and water resources from other animals. As they say with great power comes great responsibility, it is time to show responsibility and behave like head of the animal kingdom. It is time to co-exist for the future of humanity.”
Simply put, it can be defined as socially, ethically and environmentally conscious fashion. It is an emerging but a mighty movement- the need of the hour when humungous amounts of fabrics end up in landfills every year, ultimately harming the environment. Sustainable fashion puts forth the ideals of repair, reuse and recycle. Kriti Tula of Doodlage, that offers upcycled high-street fashion, supports the argument “As a designer I have grown to understand that it’s impossible to ignore the waste created by the fashion industry. According to calculations last done in 2010, in an optimistic scenario, about 40 billion square meters of leftover fabrics and scraps are created every year. With 40% of garment production being done in India, Bangladesh and China we alone produce enough waste to be able to create 6 billion garments from just scraps and leftovers saving them from not landing in landfills every year.” This fuelled her to make fashion sustainable, one scrap at a time!
Organic, hand-woven, recyclable fabrics, natural dyes, fair wages for the workers and cruelty-free practices are integral to this movement. Care must be taken at every stage of garment building- right from production to construction to the aftercare and its reusability. Proving a counteract to fast and disposable fashion that becomes redundant with time, it advocates slow fashion- pieces that last a lifetime. In unison, Nimish Shah’s label Shift uses conscious pattern cutting of sustainable fabrics to eliminate wastage in addition to sourcing fabrics from NGOs. He elaborates “The idea is to make quality clothes that are novel, will last and can be used multiple times. As a start-up I wanted to launch something with a new voice, dry sense of humour and a modest product / service. I was very passionate about the new age movement of conscious clothing and engaging customers with a brand in a holistic approach.”
It’s crux? High impact fashion with negligible environmental impact! It uses locally sourced and produced materials, indulges in ethical practices and aims to leave zero carbon footprint while churning out durable pieces. Urvashi Kaur, who combines her ‘Glocal’ sensibilities and indigenous Indian weaves through her label of the same name adds “My label believes that sustainability is a lifestyle, and an approach rather than a solution. We look at the process of creation, and commerce and find ways to move forward and grow, whilst minimizing our footprint in every way possible. For the longest time we’ve had a zero-waste policy, which means that every resource is used and reused in some way or the other. My product itself is trans-seasonal, so it can be worn for longer, and in different ways, thereby increasing its longevity and making it relevant over seasons. We also feel that the human element is important, and all aspects like fair wage, safe workplaces and equal opportunity are fundamental to the bigger picture and we have made a commitment to nurture our workforce in every way possible.”
In a way, it is the fashionable leg of the sustainable movement that has been fast gaining momentum across the globe. Sustainability in fashion has garnered global acclaim with names like Stella McCartney, Eileen Fisher, G-Star Raw, Tome, EDUN, People Tree, Julia Karol, Tara MacSharry, Ekatrina Kukhrova and many more imbibing sustainability in their designs. To conclude in the words of Stella McCartney, “We address…ethical or ecological…questions in every other part of our lives except fashion. Mind-sets are changing, though, which is encouraging.”
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