Fast fashion is the major cause of why a need for sustainable fashion came into place again. Big brands like Zara, Forever 21, and H&M constantly sell new styles that lead to disposable clothing every year since the trend dies out as soon as it reaches the market sometimes. Although trends can be really fun, the major problem lies in the huge environmental and ethical costs, that come with manufacturing such kind of clothing.
When we talk about sustainability, it is defined by development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable fashion, on the other hand, is a movement and process of fostering change in fashion products and the fashion cycle towards greater ecological integrity and social justice.
Before modernization struck, the world was a much simpler place with just a few things in life to keep us happy and content. Before mass retail chains were introduced, people mostly went for local clothing buys and other locally made products, that surprisingly lasted for a long period of time. In fact, you might find something in your parent’s closet that is still being worn by them or is in a next-to-perfect condition.
Why is that? It’s mainly because the raw material used and procured during that period used to be of high quality as compared to bulk clothing made in large factories of poor or mixed quality material. Other than just clothing, shopping bags weren’t made out of plastic but either of newspaper, muslin/cotton fabric, or anything that could be reused or disposed off in an environment-friendly manner.
Practices like ethical fashion, slow fashion, and eco-friendly fashion are also synonymous with sustainable fashion as they are considered as major factors of sustainability. In today’s era, sustainability might be the only way to preserve our cultural heritage, keeping the environment free from pollution and debris collection.
Indeed, modern amenities and conveniences are great in many ways but there are a lot of things we can learn from older generations to help live a sustainable lifestyle.
Textile Dyes and Natural Fabrics in Early days
In the early days, fabrics like cotton, flax, handloom weaves, crocheted, knits were given more of preference since these were the only raw materials easily available and it was a skill practiced by many. Because of these plant-based fabrics and their usage, the quality was rather high and lasted for a long period of time indicating that we were sustainable before.
As sustainable fashion is also doing its rounds, new fabrics are being developed which are hemp-based, organic cotton and silk, linen, pineapple or soy leather, recycled nylon/polyester. Sustainable fashion is also preserving most of our culture and heritage by reviving the age-old skills of handloom weavers, embroidered, and other craftsmen who also get a platform to exhibit their talents.
Dating back to ancient civilizations dyes have had a long history too. The use of dyes began thousands of years ago. Some evidence even shows how textile dyeing dates back as early as the Neolithic Period or New Stone Age, which took place around 10,200 BCE.
Records of other data state that dyeing was done more than 4,000 years ago because of the evidence of dyed fabrics found in Egyptian tombs. Meanwhile, the use of black, white, yellow, and reddish pigments made from ochre in cave painting was traced back as early as 15,000 BCE.
During 7,200 to 2,000 BCE, the period when fixed settlements and textiles were being developed, dyes were originally derived from sources found in nature such as vegetables, plants, trees, lichens, and insects. Dependence on natural dyes went on for a long time until the 1850s. Some of the natural dyes used in ancient times were indigo, alizarin, Tyrian purple, yellow, and logwood.
Gaurang Shah is a Hyderabad-based designer. This self-taught designer firmly believes in sustainability. According to him, sustainable fashion is not something that will soon fade away but it is something that will help the fashion industry to bloom. To him, sustainable fashion is something that involves the ancient craftsmanship of India. The designer is well known for using old craftsmanship and Indian weaves in his collection. He believes that traditional fabrics and clothing are always sustainable. Gaurang Shah uses hand-woven clothes in his collection that are skin-friendly and also durable. He also uses natural dyes to minimize the loss caused by the chemical dyes to the environment. To make his collection sustainable for the long run, the designer gives an aesthetic look to the dull fabrics by giving them a contemporary look that makes his collection trendy. Using different embroidery patterns and old hand weaving techniques, he makes his collection to be wearable for the younger generation too. He has been awarded for using and promoting the old Indian weaving practices and craftsmanship in the Lakme Fashion Week. He promotes sustainability in traditional clothing as according to him traditional clothes are always going to be sustainable as they reflect the culture, tradition, and heritage of a place.
This veteran fashion designer is a total powerhouse of the fashion industry. The main ambition of this Mumbai-based designer is to make sustainability the base of her collection. She aims that her clothing should be sustainable and at the same time, it should fashionable and existing. Her label Grassroot promotes sustainable fashion by using the old crafts that empower the artisans. The designer is working towards creating the business of fashion using practices that cause minimum damage to the environment. She is trying to make her collection that is respectful to both, the buyers and the artisans involved. Anita Dongre is tying up with different sustainable fabrics manufacturers across the world and is trying to use these fabrics in her all four labels. The designer believes that sustainable fashion is the need of the hour as it has already been neglected for decades. Not only her label Grassroot is sustainable but also the headquarters use different sustainable practices.
The Winner of 2018 International Woolmark Prize for the women’s wear title, Ruchika Sachdeva took her inspiration for sustainable fashion while she was at Westwood’s Studio in London. She saw that the designers there were truly committed to the environment. When she returned to India she worked for a fashion that always questioned the impacts on the environment. The designer includes different innovative practices in her collection like she uses upcycled wool, natural dyes, and also uses renewable resources like coconut shells for making buttons.
India has a large population, and creating fashion for a country with that much diversity and population is never easy. Apart from keeping the diversity factor in mind, the designers and retailers also have to decrease fashion’s impact on the environment and it is definitely not an easy challenge. Unlike earlier the world is in a much drastic situation today, and the need for sustainable fashion has never been stronger. The world today will agree that adopting sustainable ways is the only way in which the planet can be saved. Sustainability in fashion is not limited to buying clothes, in-fact it includes everything from production to consumption of mostly everything fashion-related. Whatever we use in our day to day life including clothes and textiles, shoes, and accessories. The reasons the world and the country should keep following sustainable fashion is-
1. Reduces the amount of waste and harm to the environment.
2. Sustainable fashion involves the usage of natural fiber which has a suitable impact on human skin.
3. The utilization of natural fibers and Colors leads to zero health hazards.
4. Following sustainable fashion in the country will increase the value of local produce and products.
5. There’s prolong the lifecycle of materials, fabrics, and garments.
6. It increases the value of timeless garments.
7. Going to sustainable fashion leads to employment generation within the country.
8. Buying natural fabrics provides lifestyle development to weavers and others.
Going green or sustainable in fashion is an excellent move as it would lead to a more environment-friendly industry. With so many age-old practices being incorporated from the early days combined with technology, it’s safe to say that we are going on the right track and making possible measures to mend what’s broken. Many designers of the industry are supporting this practice by creating sustainable lines of clothing and opening up about the importance of the Go Green movement in fashion.
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