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HOW GREEN IS FASHION?

— Meher Castelino

How green is fashion? Does it refer to just the color green or is there something more? In the 21st century there's a movement towards green or organic sustainable fashion that needs to be paid more attention. Organic foods are already making waves. In the West, events like Biofach Annual Fair in Nuremburg have organic fabrics and garments displayed from all over the world including India which has dedicated green fashion labels like' Ethicus' by Appachi Cotton run by Mai Chinnaswamy and 'Tvach' of fabric brand Aurganik for which the “Back to the Skin” collection was designed by Sabah Khan. There are other brands like 'Chetna Organic Farms' and 'The Jharcraft Project' from Jharkhand for organic silk handlooms and handicrafts. Pratibha Syntex has 'The Vasudha Organic Project' and Navdanya by Dr. Vandana Shiva creates "Fibres of Fashion" made from unbleached organic cotton. There are many movements to encourage farmers to move towards organic cotton instead of the Genetically Modified (GM) variety. 

Putting an emphasis on organic fashion is important as it helps the environment i.e. air, water and earth which need to be preserved if we want to lead a healthy life in the distant future! In this connection, The Consortium of Green Fashion -- a joint Venture of the School of Fashion Technology Pune and Dystar India Pvt Ltd -- held CGF International Conference on February 6-7 2014 in Pune where partners from India, Germany and Italy shared knowledge on Green Fashion. Aimed at the fashion institutes from where the future of fashion lies.. 500 students from SDPS Indore, BD Somani Institute of Fashion and Technology, Nirmala Niketan, Sophia Polytechnic and ICT from Mumbai; MIT Pune and School of Fashion Technology Pune as well as MS Baroda University, Gujarat and Bouie Monde Fashion College, Aurangabad.. that train future designers of India were given an idea of the importance of Green Fashion.

Several eminent personalities like Polygenta CEP Gerard de Nazelle who inaugurated the seminar encouraged students to use polyester yarn from plastic waste and pet bottles. CMAI President Rahul Mehta; CGF President Vishwas Deval; CGF Chairman Rajesh Balakrishnan; SOFT Pune Principal Dr Manju Hundekar; DyStar India MD Balaji Desai and Texan Lab MD Rahul Bhajekar along with Deepa Chandran of Madura Fashion and Lifestyle shared valuable insights. From the International fashion world there was Sasha from Italy, Philippe Wehahn from Germany and Benjamin Itter of Lebenskleidung Austria who informed the audience on developments in organic fashion.

Prizes were won by students of various institutes for creativity in the Wastessories Category (fashion quiz conducted by Meher Castelino) and Bagovation Contest. Along with the conference was an exhibit of crafts and organic fabrics, jewellery and accessories that drew eager buyers in large numbers who wanted to grab items from Gujarat, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Rajasthan and Kutch featuring textiles like Patola saris, semi-precious gemstones, necklaces, earrings, Bidri work jewellery, embroidered mojris, pure handloom cotton shawls as well as ajrak and indigo prints for fabrics, scarves stoles, woollen waistcoats, mirrorwork bags, chikankari kurtas and traditional appliqué  work on household linen. The highlight of the conference was Green Fashion Awards where six collections participated for the many awards.

'Flirty Frenzy' (SOFT) won 'Best Collection' for three cute dresses made from polygenta with digital placement prints and crochet replacing the seams. First Runner-up 'Miscui Mixtum' was a mix of recycled old woollen shawls and woven organic fabrics for stylish skirts, dresses and jackets. Second Runner-up 'Romanesque Time Travel' (Sophia Polytechnic) combined metal, jute, cotton and pure silk for dramatic showstoppers and highlighted them with plastic pieces and hemp: the natural fabric that is often ignored. For 'Best Surface Texturing' it was 'Impressions of Denim' (SOFT) that gave natural denim a hand-dyed batik texturing for asymmetric dresses, trousers and tops. The 'Special Jury Award' was reserved for 'Indian Nostalgia' (SOFT) where old discarded fabrics were unwound and woven into an eye-catching slubbed material for jackets that had amazing construction. Finally when it came to 'Best Ramp Appeal' it was difficult to beat 'Pop Art and Wabi Sabi' (Sophia Polytechnic) inspired by Andy Warhol’s paintings.

Today fashion designers need to wake up to the preservation of the environment and ensure that the need to recycle, reuse and reduce is one of the most important rules for them. Working on environment-friendly programs will ensure the earth remains a healthy beautiful place to live in for the coming generations. It is important to keep in mind the GI 3 rules of Green Importance, Green Image and Green Impact which focuses on fair trade, sustainability and contributing to the green cause. India is the largest producer of organic cotton therefore it must be emphasised to the Indian fashion fraternity and fashion graduates who are pouring out from the hundreds of institutes in the country how important The Green Initiative is for Indians. Promoting sustainable fashion will not only protect the environment but also contribute to the income of many farmers, crafts persons and keep the traditional heritage of India for years to come.
 

Impressions of Denim
 
Pop Art and Wabi Sabi
 
Miscui Mixtum
 
17-FEBRUARY-2014
 
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