Fashion is not just clothes and styles. It has a wider social and economic impact, which can make or break the fabric of society. Ethical fashion addresses the issues of the fashion industry concerning its relationships between the producers and users on one hand and the planet on the other hand at a considerably wide scale. Factors like processes used and finances involved and the interdependence of each industry on the other are the main issues that go to the core of the issue which determine the impact of every act on the ecosystem.
An environmentalist will understand the need for sustainable fashion as both these aspects are linked. Fabric of the World documented that ’The fashion industry happens to be the second-largest polluter in this world.’ Surprised? If you look closely at the process of creating bulk fashion attires, you will realize the truth behind that statement. Commercial crops are harvested to make fibres and often such natural fibres are mixed with chemicals to turn them into synthetic fabrics that are not decomposable and whose cut pieces get discarded into landfills or the water bodies leading to the fashion industry being a major threat to the well-being of the ecosystem. And the ignorant consumer continues to play the most important role in causing this pollution. This is why we need to know where our clothes come from and what they are made of!
The need for sustainable clothing
The UN Environment programme stated ‘The fashion industry produces 20 percent of global wastewater and 10 percent of global carbon emissions - more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to make a typical pair of jeans.’
The demand for clothing has increased exponentially since the 1970s. The discarding of the clothes adds to the ever growing landfill and contributes to the polluting of land, water and soil - the three essential elements required for sustaining life on earth. With the increase in awareness, Eco-friendly fashion has come into the limelight.
Eco-friendly or Ethical fashion boasts of handwoven fabrics that take care of the weaving industry too. Designers nowadays employ such weaving families and communities who are skilled in weaving certain techniques like ikkat and jamdani. The task is intensive and requires a skill set that includes speed and concentration. The weaver applies the pattern while the fabric is being created. You can understand the level of skill this kind of design requires. Once the fabrics with the designs are created, designers use these fabrics to transform them into different styles of clothing.
The struggles of the handloom industry
India has always boasted of the designs the artisans can come up with. Be it pottery, wood work, murals or motifs for making sarees and other items of clothing. The traditional Indian attire includes sarees for women and kurta dhoti for men - the perfect wear for the tropical climate.
With the Arabs came muslin or malmal, a translucent fabric that was said to be so light that a saree which is typically 6 yards can pass through a finger ring! While the material is primarily pure fine cotton, the spinning of the threads and the weaving technique makes it different from khadi or handloom cotton. With the British colonizing India, they started to take major blows on the traditional textile industry so that the British machines created printed garments could flourish. While taant industry did well, the muslin and handloom suffered greatly.
Countering this, Gandhi's khadi movement can be tagged as the first Sustainable clothing inspiration. The hand woven coarse cotton fabric soon gained momentum and the textile industry revived. Being one of the main cottage industries, weaving became popular once again. Designers nowadays resort to these skilled weavers to provide them with a combination of materials that are made for specific designs and styles. Try out some of the hot styles in khadi and handloom here.
Why become a warrior for Green fashion?
Amongst the basic needs of a human - the concept of roti, kapra aur makaan - clothes list second. Which makes the need of awareness about sustainable fashion, a necessity. It might come as a surprise but a zipper company made it their mission to reduce this wastage of spare accessories that causes major pollution and for 60 years they have been doing their part to be a well aware commercial brand. YKK zippers have silently yet surely contributed to the reduction of metal chain wastage. Issues like increase of pollution, depletion of the ozone layer and animals facing extinction, amongst many other issues need to be controlled. The impact of our lifestyle is huge and might lead to mass destruction, if not complete extinction. The fight to save the planet is not an option. People from all spheres need to actively contribute to the cause. Some simple tips are:
Organize your wardrobe to avoid buying clothes unnecessarily.
Do not use the tumble wash for delicate fabrics like sarees.
Opt for vintage clothing. These are second hand attires which have been cleaned and redone to suit the current generation.
Do not discard old clothes. Rather donate or convert them to other items of decoration.
Organic and sustainable clothings are the trend, get into it!
Nowadays, more reputed brands and designers are becoming aware of the need to be eco-friendly and this thought is reflected in their choice for ethical dresses. Be it the 6 yards drape, anarkali or even a summer halter dress, khadi cotton and traditional weaving techniques make these styles internationally acclaimed. VANYYA too understands the need of the hour and their brand of sarees, dresses and men’s clothing makes them help weavers narrate their stories to the wearers. You can always check out their impeccable collection here.