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Malai wins second CDC award at Lakme Fashion Week

Feb '20
Susmith Chempodil and Zuzana Gombosova, the co-founders of Malai Biomaterials Design, have bagged the second Circular Design Challenge (CDC) award, during the Sustainable Fashion Day two at the recently held Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2020. They were felicitated with a 20 lakh cash prize by R|Elan to build their sustainable fashion brand.

Malai was inspired by the beauty and purity of natural material and by the life cycle and ecology of the coconut palm. They worked with local coconut farmers and processing units in South India to get their waste coconut water that was the primary resource for the growth of their bacterial cellulose, which was transformed into Malai, a vegan alternative leather. The duo also worked with local communities of suppliers whose ethical approach is transparent and verified. The brand used waste coconut water and banana fibre, so that the products were easy to recycle, to compost and improve livelihoods of farmers and communities.

With the core value of the collection being start with end, Chempodil and Gombosova presented a line of relaxed and balmy silhouettes. The transition of coconut water to microbial cellulose and finally Malai, resulted in minimalistic garments with slogans, white tees, draped lungis and trousers dipped in white. For menswear, the models donned plain white tees with printed slogans like ‘Fashion kills and is injurious to health’, while the coconut umbrellas made striking fashion statements. Outfits for women were given a contemporary twist in a versatile range of lungis with checked trails. Each garment was accentuated with distinctive accessories like umbrellas, back-packs and quirky slippers made from coconuts.

After the successful launch of India’s first sustainable fashion award at Lakmé Fashion Week Summer/Resort 2019, the premier fashion platform returned with the second edition of CDC, a collaboration of Reliance Industries’ R | Elan ‘Fashion for Earth’ initiative, Lakmé Fashion Week (LFW), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in India.

The challenge saw over 400 registrations from over 40 cities across the country out of which the platform announced a shortlist of five design entrepreneurs who were chosen based on innovative collections using materials from diverse sources of waste including plastics. The aim of this initiative was to bring to the forefront environmental champions of tomorrow in the Indian fashion and textiles industry. Circular fashion is a concept aimed to reduce waste by increasing its lifespan through reusing and recycling the materials and creating new products out of them, according to a press release by RIL.

The designers were required to incorporate circular components across the textile value chain in their design through the application of circular-design principles and demonstrate a positive impact on the environment and on society. They were evaluated and scored on usage of waste in their collection, fashion and aesthetic quotient, business viability/scalability, value chain and collaborations.

From aluminium to bio-composite to Chambray, the shortlisted designers used a wide variety of materials as their fabric base to create quirky accessories and clothing. An array of techniques from croquet to charpoy weaving to fermenting bacterial cellulose were applied to upcycle and give new life to the waste in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. The chosen applicants were mentored across personality, pitch and presentation development. The final round was held before an esteemed panel that selected the winner.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (GK)

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