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.

Apparel - - Feature -

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.

GO­ING GREEN

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.

CON­TEM­PO­RARY CUES

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.

MA­TE­RI­ALLY SPEAK­ING

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.”

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