Sustainable Fashion - Part II "Look fabulous with an earth friendly attitude"

Written by: Fibre2Fashion

Hit the Green notes in style.


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Two assorted threads are converging in fashion. Traditional aspect of textiles enriched with the creativity and modernity of the fashion designers. Consumers today are not just consumers buying what is manufactured or marketed. They are brand ambassadors, and co-creators of merchandise. They are custodians of a product and also style managers. Though customers manipulate the apparel industry, a major influence on the fashion sector is from the designers. They create new designs, and showcase them on ramp shows much to the awe of the general public. The impressions created by the designers are inscribed by the customers which makes their role indispensible in creating sustainable clothing styles.


Sustainability in clothing style is not just the concern of manufacturers and customers. Renowned designer Deepika Govind's idea on sustainable fashion gives a third dimension to the concept. She believes, "Sustainable fashion is virtually an offshoot of the `ethical fashion movement, where individuals in the fashion industry take responsibility for the manner in which the garments are produced, keeping in mind its effects on the environment and human beings. In other words, its a socially-conscious environment-friendly fashion. "


Designer Agnimitra Paul's statement about sustainable fashion is an expression of her self confidence. "Sustainable fashion for me is fashion down the years, which is evergreen, which is ecologically very sound and it is not something only about fashion and trends, it is also about my individuality and expresses my personality."


Opting for natural fibres:


Natural fibres have been fundamental to our society since the dawn of civilization. Every year approximately 35 million tones of natural fibres are harvested from plants and animals. Over the years, with the wake of environmental safety, natural fibres are increasingly seen in our clothing, home furnishings etc. Natural fibres have also become a preferred choice of fashion designers; globally. Deepikas views also reflect the same. She says, "Designers opt for natural fibres, minimizing or shunning use of synthetics altogether. Those committed to the cause use natural fibres grown without the use of chemicals / pesticides. For example, choosing organic cotton over regular cotton (a crop that consumes a high degree of pesticides). Others in the industry try to ensure fair working conditions for skilled labor (tailors / embroiderers, etc), energy efficient processes, minimizing consumption of precious natural resources and the use of low impact dyes."

The designer mentions that she had worked on creating and developing several eco-friendly fabrics and pure blends like khadi & modal/tencel; soya bean & knit; eri the Peace silk stoles & sarees; and Denim Green- an organic denim line. Water and energy consumption is also lesser for organic fabrics comparatively over the other ones. "A pair of jeans from my organic denim line consumes, perhaps, a 100th or evens less water than a normal pair of factory-produced jeans, and far less electricity. The effects are achieved by hand and chemically - free techniques, as opposed to the effects one finds on a regular pair of jeans. "


Sharing her sustainable designing initiatives Deepika states that she had developed a line of stoles and shawls in Eri, the Peace Silk, Eri being a completely non-violent silk, followed by a collection of Eri sarees. C:\Documents and Settings\megha\Desktop\lady1.jpgFabrics are also made by softening the otherwise coarse Eri yarn and then imbued it with Indigo and vegetable dyes..


Agnimitra too; speaks about her contribution in enhancing the natural fibre sector. "Textiles and fabrics like jute, khadi, etc.; if they can be used in our designs and make it look more glamorous the mass is going to follow. Now, when the mass follows there is the money and the weavers and the craftsmen can survive. So this is how I feel the designers can give their bit back to the community."

Designer's role in the process:


Fashion designers are more instrumental in bringing about a change in the society. What is the role of a designer in stimulating the consumer's interest for a sustainable clothing choice? Deepika quotes cheerfully, "By creating an awareness that it is possible to find an alternative to synthetics in natural fibresthat one can look sharp and stylish in eco-friendly clothing as well and that it is worth investing just that little extra to achieve a healthier, better way of life."


Deepika further observes, "As an individual, it is important to be sensitive to the Earth that nurtures and nourishes us. And as a designer, to use the medium of fashion to express this concern....and to actively do something about it. "


Agnimitra states that fashion arena is controlled by designers a lot, and by Bollywood the Indian film industry which again is controlled by the designers which emphasizes the role of fashion designers. Sharing her experience regarding the most recent sustainable designing collection, Agnimitra talks about the Blender's Pride show where Khadi and Madhubani paintings were creatively blended. "Khadi is perceived to be non-glamorous. Currently fashion is about being subtle and understated. I used Madhubani paintings on the Khadi fabric and there were ethnic dresses like anarkalis and sarees and at the same time there were modern western dresses also. So it was very different since I used Madhubani paintings on khadi and the indo-western look was appreciated by all."


Beyond the customers who manipulate the apparel fashion industry, design is another principal protagonist, and fashion designers are those who control the segment.