Q 1. In your opinion, is there a new definition of sustainability in the fashion industry?
Ans – Sustainability in fashion is no less than a movement, which has received a big boost from the current situation of COVID-19 pandemic. This movement traverses fashion products and industry practices. Therefore, on one hand, sustainable fashion means using “natural energy and zero pollutants” to create a new-age concept in clothing and on the other hand, it also involves an ethical aspect, which means providing quality working conditions to your employees as well as prioritizing the use of environment-friendly practices in the production methods used. Sustainable fashion doesn’t just create products, it also changes the communities around by means of adopting fair practices in the business and leaving an overall positive impact on the environment.
Q2. According to you, are there any fashion industry practices that have had a positive or negative impact on sustainability?
Ans – The earth is suffering the worse impact of our callousness towards our environment. Therefore, first and foremost, it is the environment-friendly nature of sustainable fashion products, which endears it to its detractors. You may think that fashion is the least likely industry to change our outlook on environmental issues, but you would be surprised to know that ethical, sustainable fashion can actually help us address many environmental and community-related issues vis-à-vis clothing. However, when you see the impact of an apathetic fashion industry on the community and its workforce, you would understand that the cause of sustainability is positive through and through & that it needs to be promoted at all costs.
Q3. If you could give only one advice to a young fashion designer in today’s day and age, what would it be?
Ans – The first advice would be to not look for an easy way out because introducing sustainability into your fashion game is not an easy task. You need to give much thought to the materials that you are going to work with. You have to be vocal at every step of process. But all this is worth it because at the end of this road, you can reduce environmental waste, you create caring brands, you introduce fare wages and safe working conditions, which goes a long way in sustaining your brand as well as the fashion that you represent. Apart from the use of alternative materials, young fashion designers can also push boundaries by engaging with lesser-known artisans, who are the real influencers as far as the baseline of fashion is concerned.
Q4. The Fashion industry can have a major impact on the sustainability movement. In what ways, do you believe, should the fashion industry enroll the consumers in the sustainability movement?
Ans – Research suggests that young customers, aged between 18 and 34, are most likely to associate with sustainable fashion products. In fact, 33% of women worldwide would be more willing to spend money on eco-friendly, organic & ethical clothing brands. However, at the same time, there is a sizeable amount of consumers who wouldn’t want to spend extra dough on sustainable fashion products because they believe it is the brand’s social responsibility to be sustainable. Despite these hiccups, sustainability is going to be the mainstay of fashion industry and a hot topic of discussion for customers in the coming time. Therefore, fashion designers should focus on young adults, especially women, because they believe it is their responsibility as much as the fashion label’s to power the sustainable fashion movement.
Q5. With regards to the pandemic, what do you think would be the impact of it on the future of sustainability?
Ans – The Shanghai Fashion week this year went online, across seven days, featuring live shows and talks, besides hosting online shopping platforms like Taobao and Tmall. In addition, the online show grabbed the attention of 2.5 million users in the first 3 hours of streaming. That, I think, is the most profound impact of sustainability in fashion movement, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fashion institutions and designers have come together to rethink fashion weeks and the move is already paying huge dividends. Apart from virtual fashion shows, you will also see a huge surge in virtual display of fashion products, with digitally curated campaigns taking the center-stage. The slowdown in fashion industry will also bring down the apparel industry’s overall contribution to the global greenhouse gas emissions, which currently stands at 8-10%. This is due to industry players looking to sustainable means in the fashion movement.
Q6. Let’s look at the sustainability movement through the Indian lens. What would suggest in terms of sustainable practices that would work in the Indian scenario?
Ans – There is no doubt that the Indian apparel industry is already heading towards a sustainable future. Be it reviving ancient, ethnic textiles or introducing ethical business practices, Indian fashion houses and designers are taking the lead, at least in the region. With the average Indian consumer reading more about sustainable practices in fashion industry and willing to experiment for the sake of environment, the Indian fashion designers have no option but to adopt a sustainable business strategy as well. The crux of the sustainability movement in India is going green by way of manufacture, sale and recycling of clothes because if we focus on production of sustainable clothing, we need to build a demand for it as well. That is going to be possible only when the Indian consumers and fashion brands synchronize their thought process.