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Clothing Industry Is The Second Biggest Polluter Of Clean Water: Charlene Macharia, Gates Millennium Scholar

“Luxury has always meant the best, but it means making something with the best of material. Sustainability has to be made a must. Sustainability is particularly important in the fashion industry," said Nitya Biswas, Founder & Designer,

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At the Women Economic Forum in April 2018, there was a session on “Fashion in luxury with an emphasis on sustainability, innovation and empowering women."

Niharika Gautam, Business Head-Apparels, Chairperson- All Ladies League (Delhi Chapter for Fashion & Design), Advisory Board & Country Ambassador- GARI, Colombo, Mentor, MoMA, New York, said, “Fashion accounts for 10% of carbon footprint. It employs a lot of people and can be used to empower women. Collaboration is the answer to sustainable fashion. You would see a lot of fashion brands saying that there should be power dressing. But the manner in which these dresses are made is pathetic, and they work in deplorable conditions. We need to do something about it."

“Marilyn Monroe said that give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world. There are lots of quotes on beauty and appearance. The problems with fast fashion are that it feeds into the demand for sweatshops and impacts the textile industry of developing nations. We have a lot of designer labels out there which are being sold cheaper, and there are new trends being made, and we immediately want to get on to it, without thinking of the waste being created. Because of fast fashion, there is a big impact on the environment as the clothing industry is the second biggest polluter of water. Because of the high demand of fast fashion, there is a demand for sweatshops and child labour. Things to consider when buying clothing and beauty products are the means of production, and whether it is fair trade or not, you should also think about who is producing the clothes, if it is socially disadvantaged people producing them or not. Trades of Hopes is one organization which produces jobs for disadvantaged women, and we should be supporting these organizations,"7 said, Charlene Macharia, Academic Initiatives Program Coordinator, Gates Millennium Scholar, USA.

She also went on to add, “Fashion can also be used to empower women, and we should support small businesses, support women and find meaning in your dressing, and express yourself. Ninos Ankara, my sister’s company is another such brand which supports ethical, sustainable fashion. When we talk about fashion it’s normally about the outward experience, but there should be more meaning behind it.”

Nitya Biswas, Founder & Designer,, said, “Luxury has always meant the best, but it means making something with the best of material. Sustainability has to be made a must. Sustainability is particularly important in the fashion industry. I am a hard believer of sustainable fashion. You can make a small change by being more conscious. Wool and leather are not the best for the environment. The chemicals used to prepare leather is extremely bad for the environment. I have been asked why I don’t do leather, and it’s because sustainability is a new luxury and the only way to go ahead. There should be programs and awareness about how garments are made. Sustainability and consciousness are mentioned with brands without them actually working towards it. It’s not about the end product, it’s about how it was made. Today if you can help workers get a better life, they will want to help the environment. Countries like ours, Bangladesh and so on really need to see what they are doing in terms of sustainable fashion.”

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