Indian Sustainable Fashion Industry, 2020

How the pandemic has affected the industry and its leading designers.

Being sustainable does not mean you cannot be fashionable, and many Indian designers agree with this statement. Sustainable fashion becomes all the more important when we might be living in the post COVID world soon. This fashion movement of sustainability is a process of restoring our ecological integrity and bringing about a change for a more responsible and protected tomorrow. Slowly but surely a change is brewing, and emerging fashion brands all over the world understand the need for strong commitment in achieving the need to preserve our depleting resources and to make sustainability the new normal.

Fashion Industry’s Response to the Pandemic

The year 2020 threw a curveball that has left the entire world to sort through a state of utter chaos. Although a large percentage of people see the positive effect of the slowdown, that is time for nature to heal. It comes as no surprise that the economy has taken a hard hit. The last few months have seen designers, retailers, and fashion magazines contemplate what this means for their survival, especially for the ones who did not practise sustainability. This introspection has led to small shifts of the axis throughout the fashion industry, while fast fashion houses have had to make more elaborate changes. To try and create some semblance of normalcy for their production factories and to be able to continue to keep their workers on the payroll; many took this as an opportunity to tap into the new trends and produce masks, gloves, and other pandemic essentials. Fashion magazines have resorted to going online in a bid to hold on to their viewership. FaceTime photoshoots have become the new fad, first started by French designer Simone Porte Jacquemus. Major fashion magazines have embraced this trend with open arms, allowing their models and cover stars to take self-timer photos and to dress and glam themselves up to observe social distancing and to help their audience understand why this lockdown is necessary.

Leading Indian Sustainable Fashion Designers

When most people think of ‘sustainable fashion’, they think of complete minimalism. But it is so much more, and a few Indian designers who have taken the lead in presenting smart and conscious fashionable designs to the world, are paving a path for many to follow. Aneeth Arora is one such designer. She is the quintessential tale-teller through her brand Péro. One of India’s most respected young designers, she is part of the ‘BoF 500 List’. Her brand nestles at the feet of Indian textiles and simplicity through sustainability, ‘where materials pass through the hands of one craftsman to the other, carrying forward the Indian tradition of handcrafting’. Paromita Banerjee too believes in the connection of soulful stories and styles of the past that help her brand create classical designs relevant today. Her brand works closely with weaving community clusters all over India using naturally found dyes and other resources. The Paromita Banerjee brand believes in the magic and authenticity of handcrafting and producing products concerning Japanese minimalism and trans-seasonal heft.

Stefano Funari is an Italian speculator and innovator who moved to Mumbai and started the label ‘I was a Sari’. They are a ‘Mumbai meets Milan’ sustainable fashion brand, making statement accessories and ready-to-wear clothing. The brand stands for minimising waste and maximising respect. The label even collaborated with Gucci’s Equilibrium programme of a portal to connect people, plant and purpose.

Rajesh Pratap Singh, a Delhi based designer, has curated his unique signature style that subtly draws from his Indian roots to carefully craft artisanal garments, which stand apart with faultlessly clean lines. His work embodies simplicity yet obsessive attention to detail. He works closely with Indian fabric mills and naturally found resources. Another designer who carefully and passionately works within the norms of sustainability is Karishma Shahani Khan. She is trying to carve a better future with design. In 2016 she featured in the Forbes ’30 under 30’ list. Her Pune based label ‘Ka-Sha’ creates elaborate textile and handcrafted techniques with playfully layered designs. The label has a strict no waste policy and the designer makes sure to up-cycle waste from one collection to another, reinventing new designs each time.

Today while we are living in a pandemic laden world, it is crucial to reflect on our actions and take responsibility. It is time to be wise and do better. It is time to be sustainable.

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