Namaste Ladies and Gentlemen. I am on a mission to share some information with you about the future of Ethical and Sustainable Fashion in India
I have been in India for 2 months now, based in an incredibly hot Uttar Pradesh, on a guest teaching position at The Institute of Fine Art. I have been teaching creative thinking, experimental design development, draping techniques and illustration to B.A Fashion students (an opening provided by University of the Arts London and The Institute of Fine Arts, Modinagar).
With the opportunity to teach, came the decision to stay longer and get answers regarding Ethical business and Sustainable practice in this part of the world. I want to find out what drives Indian creatives to get involved with sustainable, ethical design or in some cases disregard it altogether. Does their approach to sustainability and ethical issues differ from a western approach? Who is doing what and where? I intend to provide information that educates the reader and gives way to possibilities to create trade, whilst building on The India Network on the Ethical Fashion Forum’s Networking site.
The blog will contain interviews with contemporary fashion, product and graphic designers who have involved sustainability to varying degrees in there work. It will also include details of my trips to design, manufacturing and export houses to see what they look like from a layman’s perspective. As well as discovering information about fabric developments, I hope to highlight the pros and cons of bamboo, banana and pineapple fabrics. I will be visiting the finest silk weavers in Bihar, Himalayan yak wool weavers, and organic cotton growers and producers too.
During the weekends I’ve been coughing and choking my way in to Delhi, where there is a huge amount of construction work happening for the Common Wealth Games. With the help of new friend, Guarav Gupta (Textiles Designer and University of the Arts London ambassador in India), I managed to get into India Fashion Week, and have met high end Indian fashion, product and graphic designers, fabric manufacturers and factory owners who produce for major household brands in The UK and USA.
There are so many valued opinions and important contacts here at my finger tips, which I aim to update you with regularly. In the past I have blogged for Better Thinkings ‘Perfect T-Shirt’, researching and experimenting with natural dyes and sustainable/ bio degradable packaging, and also completed a variety of Fashion, Accessory, Photography and Fine Art internships at John Galliano, Lucy Orta, Paul Savile, and Gareth Pugh to name a few.
Some of these people have taken up projects involving sustainability and are upbeat about working sustainably in the future, but there are others who believe it’s all ‘bullshit’, (and those where not my own words!). To hear that Organic and Sustainability were seen as impossible and untrue by two designers was a little disheartening, but at present it is a trend here, and I think there is a lack of drive and initiative from some.
In the next blog I will be interviewing the passionate and pro active luxury Ethical Designer, Samant Chauhan, and drawing parallels between teaching methods, Indian culture and how Fashion is valued in this fast changing country.