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Sustainability Drives Fashion Industry In 2019

The awareness to cut down on wastage and promote eco-friendly ways in production is slowly and surely on the rise in today's date.

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On one hand, being updated with trends makes a lot of difference, while on the other hand, it is also tragic that the fashion industry is the second largest pollutant in today’s time. Interesting, with the rise in eco-awareness and slow fashion among designers, one can now see a difference in the way brands are producing goods. From high street brands to online retailers, everyone who cares about the environment is now making an effort to cut down on wastage and promoting eco-friendly ways to do their bit.

One of the biggest facts of the fashion industry is that trends periodically come around. There was a time when clothes were passed on from the elder to the younger siblings, from generation to generation – the clothes we call heirlooms today. It may not have been a trend rooted in sustainability at that time, but it certainly is now. Consumers are now much more aware of the ill effects of fast fashion, says Madhuri Aggarwal, founder of Weaves of Tradition. “Consumers are willing to adopt a slow, sustainable fashion. The 2018 search results presented by Lyst are the biggest proof of how more and more people are adopting sustainable fashion. Since October 2018, Lyst has seen a 119 per cent growth in the search for ‘vegan leather’, which is associated with bags, while 187 per cent increase in page views for ‘sustainable denim’. Overall, Lyst saw a 66 per cent increase in searches for sustainable fashion. These statistics are a testament to the fact that sustainable fashion is here to thrive. Brands are coming up with interesting and innovative ways of contributing to sustainable fashion through their products. One of the very interesting concepts is that of the brand Four Days. This sustainable fashion startup aims to avoid waste by endlessly recycling products. A 100 per cent organic t-shirt from Four Days costs $38 and gives the buyer a lifetime membership. The next time you want to buy a t-shirt you replace the old one with a new t-shirt for $8. The replaced product is recycled to form new products by Four Days. Another brand making news is Patagonia which uses 100 per cent recycled polyester to make its Jackets. This company has nature at the very core of its values since it makes products for climbers and surfers. With function, reparability and durability are the core of its products, this brand has become a great example of sustainability.”

India is the land of fabrics and it is not a novice to the concept of organic and eco-friendly. Most of the handloom and naturally dyed fabric made in India is not only eco-friendly but also skin-friendly. Brands such as Upasana and Ka-sha are two such sustainable fashion brands that have the social and environmental impact of fashion at the very heart of their values. The answer to instant gratification is reuse, exchange and rental models of business that allow clothes to be rented out for any occasion and returned after use. Use of materials such as seaweed for lounge clothing, recycled denim for jeans, recycled plastics and polyester for outwear and sportswear, pineapple leaves for making leather-like material have only proved that there is a huge scope for innovation.

Clothing has been a major contributor to landfills, choking the environment and creating mass pollution and one of the ways to reduce this to reuse, recycle and up-cycle. Anju Nair, Founder of Wood & Yarn, mentions that there is a lot of fabric wastage that happens during production. Nair says, “We encourage our consumers to bring back old clothes for recycling, and from the excess of fabric left after production we make shopping bags to replace plastic bags. Plant-based textiles create a positive impact on the environment. Anamas Anam, a UK based brand, creates alternate leather made out of pineapple leaves making it cruelty-free and less hazardous. We as a brand have made a conscious effort to create designs that are handmade and also transparent in our making process. We mention every detail of the yarn used so that the buyer is aware of what they are wearing. We've been experimenting with banana fibre, bamboo yarn, eucalyptus yarn, and jute to create fabrics that are environmental and skin-friendly.”

The biggest change that is visible at the core level is the plastic ban (especially in Mumbai) retailers have quickly shifted to other options like canvas, paper or recyclable materials, informs Shilpa Bhatia, Founder of The Clothing Rental. “We use brown carton boxes for shipping trying to avoid using plastic. We used to use plastic garment bags over hangers on our merchandise but last year we switched to zip up canvas garment bags. This switch itself makes a huge difference. Once plastic ban happened in Mumbai, our canvas bags ran out in an instant, as many retailers stopped giving a shopping bag and we have always used the canvas bag, people started using our bags for vegetable shopping, grocery shopping, and other shopping trips.”

The awareness to cut down on wastage and promote eco-friendly ways in production is slowly and surely on the rise in today's date. Sheer wastage and exploitation of resources are leading not only in the lack of value of a product but also in destroying the environment by adding to the non-biodegradable waste. Varuna Anand, founder, and designer at The Splendor of Kashmir, says, “The fast-changing trends in the fashion industry give rise to flooding of markets with cheap copies of products, reducing the acceptance lifespan on a product, thus creating a chain of wear and throw policy amongst the consumers thereby effecting the environment with an overload of waste. Today all conscious brands want to shift their focus to better and superior products and cut down on the sheer numbers, which lead to the production of sub-standard products thereby increasing waste. In keeping up with the competitive spirit and cutting costs, often compromises are made in production, today with the awareness of sustainability companies are getting stringent with the quality control checks in various points of production, to ensure this. Polyester and non-bio-degradable fibres are being moved away from fibres, which can be recycled are soon becoming the choice for production.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Nivi Shrivastava

The author is a Delhi-based Journalist and Blogger at msjunebug

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