Friday, Sep 30, 2022

World Environment Day 2021: A Look At The Way We Make And Consume Fashion

Have you ever thought of achieving the colour black by blending jaggery with water and iron filings or yellow by boiling pomegranate peels and the hues of red from the bark of the madder tree?

‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ is just as important today as when the phrase was first coined. Special Arrangement

The concept of sustainability in fashion has come a long way from its humble origins. On World Environment Day, it has made all of us rethink our purchasing habits and the way we consume fashion. Fashion shouldn’t come at the cost of our planet. It’s 2021: a year where the world is not simply talking about issues with respect to climate change and the like, but it’s also taking steps to correct those issues and live more consciously. The term ‘sustainable fashion’ has been a buzzworthy one as of late. In contrast to fast fashion, products need to be built to last wear after wear, wash after wash, season after season.

Leading fashion designer Raghavendra Rathore says, “The feverish pace with which the human consciousness is awakening to the wellbeing of the environment, is in itself a miracle. As we collectively rise from the ashes of the pandemic, a common thread beckons us, one to recognize what we can do. We must not only question organizations or governments, but also ourselves as to what we have done to change our habits to better the environment - as miniscule as they may be no doubt their impact on the bubble that we all live in will be herculean.”

Designer Anavila Misra’s collection ‘Bloom’ is made from 100 percent organic cotton which is environmentally friendly as compared to normal cotton. Organic cotton doesn’t damage the soil, has less impact on the air and uses 88 percent less water and 62 percent less energy.  Misra mentions that linen is strong, highly absorbent and made from flax plant fibres which makes it completely bio-degradable.

GenNext designer at this year’s Lakme Fashion Week Wajahat Rather from Delhi says, “One thing that the pandemic has taught us is not creating too much of a surplus for the market and understanding that it has to be a sustainable model. We cannot be making clothes that are just in trend for this season. What I am doing and will continue to do is make timeless clothes. The fabrics that I am using are West Bengal malmal cotton.”

Anavila SS’21 Bloom

Accessory designer Namrata Lodha of Myaraa explains, “Our natural straw hat gives us the opportunity to reset and return to our roots. Our collection is inspired by the positive impact of natural and eco-friendly material that is used in making these personalised hats. Our straw hats may look like a classic hat, but it’s 100 percent vegan and are made from natural grass products that are wildly popular and eco-friendly. The classic silhouette makes the incredibly versatile. These natural wheat grass hats are designed with cushy insole that will hug your head for all-day comfort and is lightweight which makes it easy to carry around.”

“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” may feel retro, but it’s just as important today as when the phrase was first coined. Every product that is made and purchased has an environmental footprint, from the materials used to create it to the pollution emitted during manufacturing to the packaging that ends up in landfills. Designers have started reducing the waste and doing more recycling of the already recycled raw materials. Anita Dongre’s latest collection is in collaboration with Tencel - Sounds of the Forest. The collection showcases fibers originating from sustainably managed forests. The fabric is made using earth-friendly cellulosic fibres that biodegrade back into nature.

Anita Dongre x Tencel

“We are also very careful by consciously not choosing certain things. For example, not using plastic of any kind in cover, packaging or shipping our product. We use 100% recycled paper to manufacture our mailer box, paper inserts and packaging tapes. Most of our raw materials used in making hats is wastage from farms after the crop or the plant is harvested. We have reduced freshwater consumption in steaming and started to recycle most of the water,” says Lodha.

Coronavirus is forcing fashion to a sustainable future. Fashion as an industry runs on change with new trends, styles, and whole new ranges offered up every season. In order to meet those demands, it must keep the supply chain working at full steam to stitch up and ship out new fashions at breakneck speed. Due to the pandemic people have a chance to take a step back and be self-aware of their consumption habits and its toll on the environment.

It is more important now than ever to show love for our planet and negate the effect of human activity on climate. The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. As I embarked on starting OOKIOH, I was determined that OOKIOH will not be adding a burden to the planet.

Anita Dongre x Tencel

Sustainable fabrics with organic or natural fibers, such as hemp, have been around and used for ages. However, swimwear, sportswear, and technical wear pose a unique challenge because they require special features that aren’t available naturally and need synthetic fibers for the desired results. Says Vivek Agarwal, Founder of OOKIOH, “The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. As I embarked on starting OOKIOH, I was determined that OOKIOH will not be adding a burden to the planet.”

Many designers are using eco-friendly synthetic fabrics based on recycling and regeneration of nylon from pre-and post-consumer waste. Almost 650000 tonnes of fishing lines, nets, and ropes are introduced to the ocean each year. These take centuries to degrade and are responsible for the death of 100,000 marine creatures every year. OOKIOH’s swimsuits are made from these sunken fishing nets; The nylon from these fishing nets is regenerated into fibers, and our swimsuits are made from the yarn.

Designers are using recycled plastic bottles in some of their collections. While the fashion industry is still not carbon neutral yet, but their goal is to be Carbon negative soon. Agarwal adds, “To achieve this, we have been working on offering more sustainable packaging options, reducing our Carbon footprint by eliminating plastics from our system, bringing manufacturing closer to the customer. We are also looking at it from creative angles, such as designing swimwear that can be worn outside of the beach, ensuring the customers have access to affordable eco-friendly swimwear to reduce Virgin Nylon’s consumption.”

Anita Dongre x Tencel

The concept of sustainability in fashion has come a long way from its humble origins. Fashion designer Archana Jaju says, “My label aims at redefining Indian handloom by fitting it into a rather contemporary frame with exquisite craftsmanship and attention to detail. Our focus lies at developing finely crafted products by our skilled artisans. The silhouettes created in the process do not adhere to the ongoing trends but instead vouch for setting a timeless mark. Each piece created by us can be re worn and styled differently. We aim at reducing our overall impact on the environment through our process which includes the use of organic dyes, hand painted work and handwoven fabrics which ensure sustainability.”

Jaju works with artisans from various craft clusters across India to incorporate their skills into beautifully crafted outfits. Among the variety of crafts used, the age-old tradition of Kalamkari is also an essential part. It primarily makes use of earthy colours like indigo, mustard, black and green, all of which are extracted from natural sources. She says, “For instance, for achieving the colour black, jaggery is blended with water and iron filings, which is utilized primarily to outline the sketches. When it comes to mustard or yellow, it is obtained by boiling pomegranate peels and hues of red are created from the bark of madder tree. Furthermore, blue is derived from indigo itself and green is acquired by mixing yellow and blue together. Being extracted from absolutely natural sources, there is no use of chemicals and artificial matter.”

Jaju’s label focuses on the development and conservation of handicrafts produced by our skilled artisans. At the same time, it is making a conscious effort to adopt the path of sustainability by following an organic approach towards creating unique and artistic pieces. “As the quest for conscious consumption goes on, we not only aim at experimenting with different crafts of India but also incorporate sustainability in our concepts and in turn educate our consumers about the same,” she adds.