The fashion industry has evolved over the years with luminous minds spinning the wheel, and setting trends in motion. But does the current vogue around climate change have an impact on this chunk? Adhering to this fact, it’s high time we inculcate steps to reduce excessive dumping of couture (as we know change is constant in fashion), and make innovative changes to carve a niche for ensembles that are environmentally ethical.
Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/ Festive 2019 has brought in another season that creates an inclusive conversation around sustainable fashion in India. Apart from paying tribute to the rich heritage of Indian fabrics, designers have incorporated elements that encourage a positive impact on the environment as well.
Age old recipes of recycling
For this season, designer Padmaja Krishnan has worked with Adiv pure nature from Mumbai, which makes natural dyes from recycled flowers and fruits collected from temples such as peach, coconut, dried rose petals, marigolds, pomegranates, indigos and madder.
Speaking on how fashion needs to be more than just about mindless consumption, she states, “Many designers have come forward in the past few years with innovative ideas to reverse climate change. However, these voices are still few compared to the looming environmental threats we are facing today. Fashion needs to be more than about mindless consumption – it should be the voice of society. To choose techniques that are slow and not fully controllable, to use repeats that are bigger than the field of vision, to find the vulnerability and strength of the human hand over the weakness of the machine or just to cheat the unsuspecting eye are some of the ways. As makers and consumers, we all have a responsibility towards ourselves and hence towards the environment as well. The idea is to acquire less and savour more.”
She adds, “Sustainable and sensible practices should not be a trend but actually be a part of our lifestyle. India is a country that has had a heritage of upcycling for many centuries. Number of traditional crafts like kantha, pipli and sujni are grounded in the very ideas of recycling. If each of us just turn to our grandmothers’ times less than about 30 years back, we will find great examples of wisdom exercised in the way we consumed clothing in our very families.”
Vegetable and fruit dyes
Shani Himanshu and Mia Morikawa of 11.11/Eleven Eleven emphasise on creating a meaningful fashion garment line that stands for ethical products while ensuring sustainability of local strengths.
Shedding light on how it is important to start working from the source, Mia says, “We need to respect our waterways, and using natural dyes we can avoid chemicals going back into the water system, especially after they have been washed.” So where do these dyes come from? “We have ochre yellow colour which we extract from pomegranate shell. We also have a colour called pink wood, which we extract from Sappan wood branches,” informs Himanshu.
The commercial office of Ecuador in Mumbai and Karishma Shahani Khan have collaborated and introduced vegan ivory in the city. Unlike the ivory we have seen being sold in the black market through illegal killings of elephants and rhinos for their tusks, this one is harvested naturally, and can be used for buttons, jewellery and art. “We have worked with Corozo - a material made from the Tagua nut sourced from the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. The Tagua nut is harvested naturally and is renewable in nature. We have worked with this material by incorporating it in our autumn collection ‘Quam’,” says Karishma.
She also elaborates on how fashion dumping can be curbed. She asserts, “By creating quality focused pieces – have better choices in fabric, techniques of making, fair wages and conscious sourcing - the longevity of the pieces increases. Fashion dumping is more often than not related to the disposal of mass produced good that are extremely affordable. I find sustainability being used as a term extremely loosely. I think being conscious of our surroundings should not be a choice but an integral part of each individuals’ lifestyle.”
An upgrade from normal viscose
Designer duo Abraham & Thakore have used LENZINGTM ECOVEROTM, a sustainable and environmentally responsible viscose fibre, for their collection this season. It is a sustainable viscose brand manufactured only from certified and controlled wood sources and produced with significantly lower emissions and water than generic viscose. This is a substantial upgrade from normal viscose, which is known for its not so environment friendly production process. This on the other hand ensures tailoring sustainable lifestyles choices, contributing to a cleaner environment.
David Abraham states, “Some designers and some brands are now investing in more sustainable practices in garments manufacture - like the circular loop of consumption and manufacture, where they have recycled used clothes and created new clothes of the ones that have been discarded. Second is - investing in new technology, is the other way the industry is contributing.
“There are a lot of designers now who are aware that fast fashion is dangerous, and hence are designing pieces and garments that have a long life and can be re-used over and over again, and which don’t go out of fashion. Buy good quality, wear your clothes for a long time, don’t buy and discard/ throw, avoid use of polyester where possible because it is non-biodegradable, look at the label of what you are buying to ensure that the materials are biodegradable, and not harmful to the environment,” he adds.
Fashion, eventually, is about responsibility too.