FASHION GETS A GREEN MAKEOVER!
New age fashion designers and brands are going the sustainable way, keeping in mind the ecological considerations. Bindu Gopal Rao explores.
As the world becomes more sensitive to the environment, apparel manufacturers are turning over a green leaf quite literally. Sustainability is a key driver that has ensured that the apparel sector is making this shift. Hand-woven fabrics and apparel are eco-friendly by nature because the spools of thread are woven into the cloth using hand-operated looms (hence handloom), and in handloom apparel, predominantly natural dyes and pigments are used. Also, all khadi garments (saris, salwars, kurtas, material) are not only hand-woven but the threads are also hand-spun from yarns (cotton, silk or linen), so they have a near zero carbon footprint.
Synthetic fibres such as polyester take a minimum of 20 years (in the most conducive conditions) and mostly up to 200 years to degenerate. Cotton, on the other hand, can biodegrade in one to five months if not blended with polyester. Linen can biodegrade in less than a month given the right conditions, making natural fabrics the right choice for people. Prashanti Alagappa, Founder and Director, Indian Dobby, explains, “Eco-friendly fabrics have different meanings in different parts of the world. For Europe and Japan, which import most (over 80 per cent) of the cotton yarn and fabrics, it is about producing synthetic and manmade fibres in a sustainable manner–like cupro which is made from the fibres left on cottonseed after ginning–or making various fabrics from industrial, plastic or fibre/fabric wastes. But for India with its abundance of cotton availability (being the second largest producer in the world), it is about using eco-friendly natural dyes or producing the fibre/yarn/fabric in a manner which uses the least polluting resources. In this respect, India has been centuries ahead of the world with khadi, handloom and naturally dyed fabrics. New innovations revolve mostly around design sensibilities.” Nupur Saxena, Creative Head of House of Primes exclusively available at The Open Trunk, avers, “With the value of the global fashion industry touching US$3 trillion, an estimated annual consumption of 80 billion pieces of clothing globally, the clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world. Chemicals from the dyes are polluting fresh water; tonnes and tonnes of textile waste from mass production and large quantities of discarded synthetic clothing which are the result of the same supply chain are covering up the landfills. Hence, it is high time we take responsibility of our actions and foresee the repercussions of the choices we make today, over the long run. The pioneers and followers of this cause have just one end goal in mind: to leave this planet in a better shape/ condition than we received it in so that the future generations can enjoy the bounty it has to offer.”
IT IS HIGH TIME WE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY OF OUR ACTIONS AND FORESEE THE REPERCUSSIONS OF THE CHOICES WE MAKE TODAY, OVER THE LONG RUN.
RECYCLING OF GOOD QUALITY USED APPAREL IS A NEW TREND ABROAD WHICH IS SLOWLY CATCHING ON IN INDIA.
The current trend is a recent shift towards being organic and healthy. For apparel, that would mean fabrics derived from nature or eco-friendly fabrics. People today are looking for new silhouettes. They are looking for new and trendy cuts, asymmetrical cuts, western cuts, European cuts, etc. Variations in draping are also admired. Backless dresses, knots, soft gathers are also in vogue. Khadi has been used in different ways by the new age designers. They are either using the eco-friendly fabrics in their original styles, like jackets and kurtas, or have adopted a modern take on the same by incorporating them in accessories, dresses and everyday western wear. Jawahar Singh, Co-founder, Avishya.com says, “Recycling of good quality used apparel is a new trend abroad which is slowly catching on in India. If manufacturers back a constructive process for recycling by consumers, it will do a world of good for the environment. Our handcrafting traditions also have an upcycling history. Kantha embroidery was traditionally done to give fresh life to used fabric. Designers can build on this to create apparel with contemporary appeal.” While most eco-friendly apparel was mostly being designed in the casual wear space, a few labels are experimenting with such fabrics for formal wear as well. With the advancement of modern technology and corresponding developments, there have been simultaneous launches in the eco-friendly fabrics range.
There is certainly more focus on eco-friendly fabrics the world over, from organic cotton to using fibres which require more controlled usage of chemicals to using lesser water and other natural resources like firewood in the processing to recycled and upcycled fabrics and many more which use technology. Organic materials like bamboo fabric, lotus fabric, hemp fabric, soy fabric, linen, jute silk and ahimsa silk are some of the latest materials being used to make eco-friendly fabrics. Fibres from banana and eucalyptus (known as Lyocell or Tencel) plants and yarns derived from milk proteins and soy proteins are being worked on to arrive at textures like silk and cashmere. An upcoming designer from Manipur, Thanrei Raising, Founder and Creative Head of Thanrei Raising Haute Couture says, “My journey of sustainable fabrics started when I launched an eco-friendly readyto-wear line collaborating with the sustainable concept store Ethic Attic by Fair Konnect. We use more linen fabrics as this is one of the most biodegradable and stylish fabrics in the fashion industry, known for its natural and classy colours, with high resistance temperature and moisture absorption without holding bacteria.”