A republic of hope - the growth of sustainable fashion in India

A Republic Of Hope

The concept of sustainable fashion in India can be traced back to the traditional crafts and textiles of the country, which have always been a source of pride and cultural identity.
As time passed, the Indian fashion industry became a lot more dependent on machines that enabled us to produce garments cheaper and faster, resulting in fast fashion and a lack of concern for its environmental and social impact.
However, in recent years, there has been a shift back towards more sustainable practices. Sustainable fashion is a movement that is gaining momentum in India, with more and more brands and designers incorporating environmentally and socially responsible practices into their operations.
In this blog, we will take an in-depth look at the following:
  • Growth of sustainable fashion in India
  • Origins of the movement
  • The support from government and other sources
  • How it has become more widespread in the country
  • Current state of sustainable fashion in India
  • How its shaping conscious consumerism
What is sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is a way of designing, producing, and buying clothing that's better for the environment and for people. Creating clothes that won't harm the planet or exploit workers is not just good practice, but also imperative in today’s climate. This can include using eco-friendly materials, fair labor practices, and designing clothes that will last longer and can be worn in different ways.
It's a way to make sure that our love for fashion doesn't come at the cost of the earth or the people who make our clothes.
The rise of sustainable fashion in India
In the 1980s, with the emergence of organizations such as the Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad and The Handloom and Handicrafts Development Corporation, the focus shifted towards reviving traditional crafts and promoting the use of natural, eco-friendly materials such as cotton, silk, and wool.
In the early 2000s, the sustainable fashion movement in India gained momentum, with more and more designers and brands are starting to incorporate sustainable practices into their operations. This was also around the time when the government began to take notice and provide support for the industry.
In 2002, the Ministry of Textiles launched the National Crafts and Handloom Cluster Development Scheme, which aimed to promote the use of traditional crafts and techniques in the fashion industry.
The growth of sustainable fashion in India has been driven by a number of factors, including increased consumer awareness, support from the government and other organizations like NGOs, social enterprises, and a growing number of brands and designers who are focused on creating sustainable and ethical products.
The support for sustainable fashion in India has also grown beyond the government. There are now numerous organizations and initiatives working to promote and support the industry, including The Fashion Designers Council of India (FDCI) and The Sustainable Fashion Collective. In addition, there are several fashion events and trade shows in the country that focus on sustainable fashion, such as The India Sustainable Development Summit and The India Fashion Forum.
The Indian government has also played a role in supporting the growth of sustainable fashion in the country. In 2015, The Ministry of Textiles launched The National Policy on Handlooms, which aims to promote the development of the handloom sector and support traditional craftspeople. The government has also implemented several initiatives to promote eco-friendly fashion, including the promotion of organic cotton and the establishment of a National Action Plan on Climate Change.
Government initiatives to promote sustainable fashion in India
Over the past two decades, sustainable fashion in India has grown significantly and is now a mainstream movement. There are numerous brands and designers in the country that specialize in sustainable fashion, and many more that have made sustainability a key part of their operations. This includes major fashion houses like Raw Mango, Grassroot by Anita Dongre as well as smaller, independent brands like Ankur Varma, HueLoom, etc.
Conscious consumerism in sustainable fashion is about making informed and ethical choices when it comes to buying clothing and fashion. It involves considering the environmental, social and economic impact of a product throughout its entire life cycle from its raw materials, production process, usage and disposal. Consumers can also choose to buy second-hand clothing and adopt a "slow fashion" approach, which emphasizes quality over quantity, and encourages buying fewer but better-made clothes that will last longer.
Some of the key principles of sustainable fashion include:
  • Using natural and organic materials whenever possible, such as organic cotton, bamboo, and linen, to reduce the use of chemicals and pesticides in production.
  • Reducing waste and pollution by minimizing the use of water, energy, and other resources in production, and by using closed-loop production methods that allow for materials to be recycled or repurposed.
  • Adopting fair labor practices to ensure that workers in the fashion industry are treated ethically and paid fair wages.
  • Adopting circular economic principle which is using, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing and recycling the product in order to retain the value and prolong the life of the products.
Some examples of sustainable fashion practices include:
  • Using natural dyes and traditional dyeing techniques
  • Using sustainable and ethical packaging
  • Creating clothes that can be repaired and easily maintained
  • Creating modular clothes that can be customized as per the need
  • Supporting local artisans and handloom weavers
  • Creating clothes which can be worn for a long period of time and can withstand many washes and wears
Looking forward, it is clear that sustainable fashion is shaping the future of conscious consumerism in India. As more and more consumers become aware of the environmental and social impacts of their fashion choices, the demand for sustainable fashion is likely to grow. This, in turn, will drive brands and designers to adopt more sustainable practices, leading to a more sustainable fashion industry overall.
The evolution of sustainable fashion in India has been a positive one with widespread recognition. While the industry still has a long way to go in terms of fully embracing sustainable and ethical practices into their operations, the progress that has been made so far is encouraging. As the demand for sustainable fashion continues to grow, it is likely that we will see even more progress in the coming years.
Going forward, The Indian government's support for the sector and the increasing number of sustainable fashion brands will also contribute to the growth of this market. As a result, consumers in India are becoming more conscious of the environmental and social impacts of their fashion choices and are increasingly opting for sustainable brands. This development in turn has led to transform our nation into a republic of hope.
“Ethical and sustainable fashion is not a product. It’s a practice. Everyone is invited to participate. There’s no obligation to buy. And you can get started right now. Today.”
– Elizabeth L. Cline
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