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Why we need sustainable fashion

In a world where products and contents are more than its alleged consumers and trends can have a shelf-life of a single day, fashion has managed to make its way beyond the high-end stores and lanes of Sarojini and Lajpat Nagar into a habit of methodical clothing of the masses. Fashion opinions are almost as common as a pair of blue denim jeans in someone’s wardrobe.

Photo Credits: Stella McCartney and Ellen MacArthur's report on Sustainability in Fashion

Before such drastic approach was adopted, fashion was nothing more than just clothes or another means to learn a livelihood. Soon the high society took over becoming the de facto leader of the fashion industry. Now, fashion runs over a year with four seasons: Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter, Resort and Pre-Fall. This can be marked as the beginning of fast fashion. As soon as fashion shows and catwalks are celebrated, it is replicated with low quality material and sold to masses providing them a sense of savvy garment knowledge.

The promise of keeping with trends becomes a USP for many fast fashion brands out there. The main emphasis of fast fashion business model is to maintain a towering supply of stock at all times. This resulted in fast fashion brands releasing about 52 micro-seasons each year which literally translates to new trends every new week.

Climate change is real and as much as any other industry, fashion industry is equally responsible for the irreversible damage caused to environment. In many landfills and dumping yards across the world, fashion industry is a significant contributor. Apart from usage of harmful toxins, dyes and chemicals of sorts fashion industry also uses an immense amount of water. For example, it takes 2,700 litres of fresh water to make one t-shirt.

What is sustainable fashion?

Sustainable fashion is the process of producing fashion products as sustainably as possible with consideration of its environmental impacts and the humanitarian aspect while for the consumers it means responsible decisions about buying and deposing. Sustainable fashion promotes for conscious clothing. It makes people think of what they actually need and what philosophies they support. Fabrics like organic cotton, linen, wool, cashmere, hemp, lyocell/modal and cork are considered as sustainable fabrics due to their ethical and organic values. On the other hand, fabrics like nylon, polyester, lycra and rayon are a few examples of unsustainable fabrics. In India, a few brands like Doodlage, Ka Sha by Karishma Shahani and Nicobar by Good Earth work to produce sustainable clothes and products. Indian fashion influencers like Neha Sharma (@the_stylewali) and Ankita (@kitakaturi) promote the idea of sustainability in fashion.

In India, flea markets like Sarojini Nagar Market and Lajpat Nagar Market obtain their clothes from the factories which reject the defected pieces. The ranges of clothes vary from cheap clothes to good quality branded clothes. It also includes counterfeit items of famous brands at half or less than half of their original price which is unfair for the years of hard work behind establishing their name. While the role of these flea markets can’t be denied in encouraging fast fashion, they also promote sustainable fashion by reselling clothes. Reselling of clothes relaxes the production of more clothes and accessories.

Indian textile market is already world’s second largest manufacturer of textile products. With the propagation of the idea of Make in India, the textile market is now encouraged to produce more organic clothes while making sure the employment is generated. This is a huge step in sustainability in India. However, the need of the hour is to be conscious about our choices. It’s important to understand the gravity of the situation and make responsible judgements.

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