Ecological clothing is gaining popularity day-by-day. Many skin diseases and health hazards occur due to wearing of fabrics which are cultivated and processed by usage of pesticides and synthetic dyes. People now consider eco-clothes as fashionable and trendy. It has been calculated that the amount of cotton used to make a standard size t-shirt, is treated with a considerable amount of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Using organic cotton could save about 1/3rd of the total amount of pesticides and fertilizers used. The people who understand the benefits of using organic fabrics are ready to shed that extra penny also. It was found that despite cotton being considered as natural crop, huge amount of pesticides and fertilizers are sprayed on cotton crops.
Thus organic cotton is different from cotton grown by regular process. The fabrics that are grown without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides are known as organic fabrics. For example- fabrics made up of soy, natural silk, bamboo, linen and cotton can be grown naturally. In organic farming of cotton, the seeds are not treated genetically nor with chemical pesticides. It doesnt mean that these organic farming do not require safety from weeds and fungus! The weeds are removed by hand hoeing, pest control is done by using bio-pesticides and fertilizers which are not made up of chemicals. Right from sowing of seeds to harvesting, storing and processing, the methods used are traditional and natural.
Different types of garments are made from organic cotton, such as salwar-kameez, dupatta, skirts, short kurtis, t-shirts, shirts, etc. Its consumption has increased from past few years. However its market share is more in big and metropolitan cities like Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Bangalore and Pune. Due to various ill-effects of chemically treated cotton fabrics on our skin, many NGOs, farmer groups and designers have began to spread its awareness amongst the common public. Organizations like Maharashtra organic farmers association, Vidarbha organic farmers association, etc offer help to cultivate such crops or themselves do it.
In order to give organic clothing a boost an open house session is arranged for designers, farmers, retailers, researchers, etc having significant role in cultivating, processing, manufacturing and selling the organic clothes. Here Indian people associated with this field meet people from other countries. They share their ideas, viewpoints and discuss over how to improvise the whole process right from cultivation to selling of finished products. To start organic farming, farmers should have certification for it. But the main drawback which comes in the way of increased sales of organic fabrics is its- high price. Its price is double than the normal cotton fabric.
Rotative mode of cultivation is done for growing organic cotton which is a costly process. Moreover the total amount of cotton produced by such process yields 14-20% less crop in comparison to crops grown by using synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Wearing organic clothes is more popular among upper-middle class and high- class people. It is the latest fashion fad. But considering it as a fashion would not serve the purpose of ecological conservation, therefore people should realize its benefits and make it a regular wear. If the demand increases the production would be increased, as a result the overall production costs will decrease.
The above discussion might put forth the message that organic cotton is the latest invention and was not used before, but the reality is that such cotton was cultivated in old times also, and it was widely worn till 1950s. There are certain regions in India where the farmers still grow cotton by traditional eco-friendly method. Suyodhar, Jayadhar, Khandesh, Nandicum, some hilly areas of northeastern region and Maljari are some of the places where it is grown. Cotton that is grown by irrigation using polluted water from factories is poised to create health hazards.
Re-farming of organic cotton was first started in 1991 by Managing director of Maikaal Fibres Ltd.- Mr. Mrigendra Jalan and Mr. Patrick Hohmann (Managing director of Swiss cotton yarn trading company). Initially started with few handful of farmers, has now more than 1,000 farmers associated with organic farming. This movement gained momentum when Coop which is the biggest retailer of ecological products in Europe, arranged the supply chain model of organic cotton.
Brand image plays a vital role in endorsing any new product in the consumer market. Many esteemed clothes brands have started using organic fabrics in their collections. For instance- Nike, Patagonia and Timberland use some percentage of organic fabrics in sportswear. Some of international designers like Rogan Gregory, Katherine Hamnett and Stella McCartney use organic cotton in their designer outfits. Although not many people are aware of the ill-effects of formaldehyde and pesticides on our environment, but slowly and steadily the trend of using organic clothing is catching up.
Raymonds have introduced an entire range of garments made from bamboo fabrics. The shirts and trousers made from bamboo fabric possess anti-bacterial and anti-static property, they have extra capacity to retain moisture thus in summer season the wearer would experience cool even under scorching heat. The trousers made from bamboo fibers could be worn as a formal as well as non-formal wear, they give the look of linen trousers which looks very elegant and fashionable.
Raymonds also uses soybean fabrics in their trendy clothes line, as this fabric provides extra shine and moisture absorbing property. They have also introduced a fibre called Casein made from combination of milk protein, super 120s wool and silk. It is used for making suiting-shirtings and jackets. An international brand named BSC has launched their collection of organic towels in India. They are even planning to launch kidswear and home furnishing range in 2007-2008.
Some private labels also have experienced success and overwhelming response in organic clothing. One such name is Aura Herbal Wear based in Ahmedabad city of India. They have a wide range of organic fabrics of cotton, linen, silk, etc. made from medicinal herbs and dyed with herbal dyes.
Levis has also announced to launch a range of women and men jeans collection made up from 100% organic cotton. It would be named as Levis Eco right now available in the U.S. stores of the company.
Clothes made from organic fabrics are easy to maintain and clean. Despite of the low market share in clothing industry of India, on an average organic clothes demand is growing at the rate of 30% per year, which is quite encouraging. Designers are working towards making these clothes more appealing, fashionable and economical. Down the line, after some years people would be spotted wearing trendy and stylish outfits made up of organic cotton and fabrics.
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