Think fashion and almost instantly, you'll think of glitz and glamour. While that's only partly true, the core of the industry isn't very glitzy right now. On day 2 of Lakme Fashion Week, a day dedicated to sustainability, handloom and traditionalism, we sat for a session led by spirited minds in the field including Yuri Afanasiev, UN Resident Coordinator in India and Anita Dongre, Founder of House of Anita Dongre.
The industry brings a host of advantages to the table. Textile and fashion is India's second biggest employer and could be worth $700 billion. It provides employment to thousands and has developed enormously through the years. However, there are many downsides to the way the fashion industry in India currently functions. It generally follows a linear model which is about taking resources, making goods and disposing them once they are done with. This has led to 8 to 9 percent of the world's CO2 emissions coming from here. Unsurprisingly, the fashion industry is also the second largest polluter in the world. Keep in mind that it's also eating away at our most precious natural resources like water and greenery. With the 2nd largest population in the world, India's land mass comes in at 2.37 percent of which, (and this is shocking) less than 5 percent is green cover.
With facts like these, the present may seem bleak but not for long. A few sparks of brilliance have led to ingenious developments in the industry. The economic model is slowly changing from linear to circular. Anita Dongre's designs focus on less wastage and recycling what does get wasted. Her Grassroots label has adopted 3 villages which provide employment and education to artisans. Labels like Chindi and Boheco find use for materials that may not be utilized as well as with alternatives like hemp. Reliance's RElan fabric is made of plastic bottles, a creative solution for them. Even cottage industries, which engage over a crore of Indians, are using traditional methods which improve sustainability.
With so many solutions to the industry's woes already underway, it looks like the future of Indian fashion is already set towards becoming greener.