The consumer pattern is encouraging globally, as two-thirds of buyers are willing to spend more on eco-friendly clothes.
The eco-friendly clothes market in India is growing steadily even as the industry is at a nascent stage. Manufacturers adopt better practices to produce clothes that leave little impact on the environment. According to a McKinsey survey, the consumer pattern is encouraging globally, as two-thirds of buyers are willing to spend more on eco-friendly clothes.
With the Indian government banning the use of plastic bags across numerous states, the increasing chatter around global warming, and campaigns against dumping garbage in oceans, the textile industry in India is taking the cue and is shifting towards eco-friendly clothing.
Earlier this year, major players like TCNS Clothing, Zara, Levi’s, and H&M announced their gradual shift to ethical fashion trends.
Small scale retail labels like Akira Ming, Doodlage, and YarnGlory have entered the market to manufacture garments the organic way.
These brands create designs where the manufacturing process uses less energy, natural colors are used for dyeing clothes, and they maintain a recycling unit in their supply chain.
“Our Eri silk production entails a non-violent procedure to manufacture silk where the silkworm feeding on the castor leaves are not killed to spin the yarn out of the cocoon,” Designer Anannya Sharma, founder of Yarn Glory, sells Eri silk and Khadi handloom apparel, said.
She added that the apparel under her label is handwoven and hand yarned and naturally dyed. She noted that using agro-products (herbs, fruits, vegetables) generates livelihood for indigent women workers.
Unsustainable fashion damages the environment
According to the National Climate Change Journal (2018), textile production is one of the most polluting industries. It produces 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the emissions of international flights and maritime shipping put together.
According to the UNFCCC, carbon emissions from the apparel industry are set to cross 60 percent by 2030. In Asian countries like India and China, emerging fashion trends have increased the carbon footprint per garment due to coal-fuelled plants.
In 2016, a McKinsey report on “Style that’s sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula” claimed that fashion witnessed a significant change in buying trends, with production doubling from 2000 to 2014 and the purchase index of an average consumer increasing by 60 percent.
This has led to a “fast fashion cycle” wherein consumers are purchasing clothes for summer, autumn, spring, and winter, which has forced the fashion industry towards unsustainable fashion. This means the sector produces more synthetic fibers, polyester, nylon wastewater, and plastic waste.
This rings alarm bells and warrants a shift towards sustainable fashion.
Reviving ethical fashion trends
Hazardous fashion trends from fast consumerism have skeletons buried everywhere, and low-cost cheap production processes need to be curtailed to revive ethical fashion.
Organic fashion needs to be given a significant push, considering the increasing number of landfills from waste clothing, water pollution from hazardous chemicals, and air pollution from carbon emissions.
In March 2019, the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion met to review the industry’s impact worldwide and discuss solutions for the industry’s socio-environmental risk.
The International Trade Centre has set up the Ethical Fashion Initiative to promote artisans from the developing world, and UN Environment is pushing governments to foster sustainable manufacturing practices.
With growing awareness about climate change, global warming, and dumping in the oceans, consumers are getting conscious of what they’re eating and wearing. The Fashion industry is now undergoing a sort of awakening and transitioning into a more sustainable forefront.
This led to the ecological fashion trend — Sustainable Fashion industry — emerging as a fast-growing market in developing countries.
Organic fashion or ethical fashion trends require a prolonged production process compared to unsustainable fast fashion. Still, with a change in consumer mindset, supply chains and retailers are trying hard to dissolve reputation risks by reducing their product’s impact on the environment.
The sustainable apparel market in India
McKinsey’s State of Fashion report marks the ascent of India into the global fashion industry due to Asia’s economic expansion. India will occupy the center stage in the fashion industry, with a rapidly growing middle class and robust manufacturing sector.
The Indian apparel market is estimated to cross $59 billion in 2022, making it the sixth-largest in the world.
According to McKinsey’s Fashion Scope, India will become one of the most attractive consumer markets outside the Western world, moving on from being a vital sourcing hub. However, sustainable fashion is a minor contributor to the apparel market.
A recent YouGov survey of consumers in India revealed that most shoppers consider a sustainable manufacturing process a priority while buying fashion items. However, material, fit, design and price have a more controlling influence. New data shows that more than 83 percent of people consider sustainability while buying fashion products.
Designer Kriti Tula, the founder of Doodlage, started working organically after witnessing the wastage of garments, fabrics, and inventory in fashion brands. “Almost 25,000 meters of cloth, fabric leftovers, stitching waste, and residue water is released in unsustainable manufacturing units,” she recalled.
Tula processes her leftover fabric to create paper and stationery. Shredded material and excess garments are rewoven to maintain the organic nature of her supply chain.
“There is a long way to go in total acceptance and expansion. A holistic approach is missing, and competing prices with fast fashion brands hinder, as sustainable goods take time to process,” Kriti said.
According to the founder of Brown Boy, Prateek Kayan, the waste from big unsustainable brands is huge and is often not revealed. “McKinsey reported that 66 percent of people want to pay more for sustainable apparel now, but this was not the case five years ago. There has been a cause transition through dialogue,” he said.
Kayan added that maintaining the sustainable nature of supply chains starts with designing and ends with recycling leftovers. His label formulates about 30 designs from up-cycled material left from stitching restrictions.
Earth5R launched the Green Citizens program for Powai, which brings communities together and develops an ecosystem coexisting with citizens playing symbiotic roles. With the help of citizens, Earth5R runs local sustainability projects that make the entire residential area sustainable.
Buildings become zero waste while creating a positive environmental, social, and economic impact in the locality. Underprivileged women get a livelihood by upcycling waste and gaining respect and recognition in their community.
As a part of the workshop, Saurabh showed them how waste could be turned into brand new products that can be sold in the market.
To read more about it, please visit Sustainable Powai (earth5r.org)
To read more about it, please visit Eco-Friendly Doll Making Workshop, Mumbai (earth5r.org)
Divya Ahluwalia, the founder of Akira Ming, pointed out the importance of design for sustainable apparel. Her label constructs the garments in a way that releases minimal wastage, and leftovers are donated to various non-governmental organizations to create home accessories like wall hangings, etc.
Ahluwalia believes that dialogue around environmental damage and climate change has increased over the past couple of years, and millennials understand the importance and durability of eco-friendly goods.
“Initially, I had organized pop-ups and exhibitions to encourage organic fashion trends and explain my brand cause, but now I see that people are aware and want to buy sustainable fashion items,” said Ahluwalia.
To read more of such articles, please visit https://earth5r.org/