Two boss ladies- a designer and a fashion blogger burst a few myths on slow fashion, what constitutes an eco-friendly fabric, the actual meaning of sustainability, and a lot more during a panel discussion on sustainable fashion hosted by Warhorse as a part of its Learning Festival.
Sana Sharma started off with the three aspects of sustainable fashion- labour and fair trade, environmental impacts, and economic factors and how a balance was required for a fabric to be commercially sustainable as well. “It is important to be a responsible shopper. People usually think that cotton is a sustainable fabric, but 700 gallons of water is required to manufacture one cotton t-shirt,” she explained. Varsha Mohan focussed on the environmental, human aspect of production.
“There is no standard definition of what is slow fashion,” said Varsha. Brands like H&M, Zara, Forever 21 are fast-fashion brands that introduce new, limited edition clothes every month resulting in clothes ending up in landfills. About 12,000 Million of clothes are dumped each year. “Slow fashion means better quality of clothes, more ethics, and how much care has been put into the production process,” added Sana.
“It is important to be a responsible shopper. People usually think that cotton is a sustainable fabric, but 700 gallons of water is required to manufacture one cotton t-shirt.”
The blissful ignorance of consumers was spoken about in brief. Knowing what one wears is as important as the conscious effort taken to pick out one’s favourite outfit every morning matching the colour according to their mood. “If we don’t see the size and scale of production, we fail to understand the urgency,” sighed Varsha. Sana Sharma started researching sustainable fashion for her label. She explored more about how to make design efficient, usage of scrap material, and the method to cut clothes mindfully. “It is the responsibility of the consumer to ask questions, to start buying responsibly,” she said.
Varsha’s question on how to make sense of the supply chain of big brands with limited time and resources, the effectiveness of questioning corporates was an interesting one. “I would encourage people to tag, start asking questions about the recycled section and organic clothing in stores. There is no sure way of making sure of the effectiveness of questioning these brands though,” said Sana.
Sustainability is often associated with being expensive- Sana explained why. “The cost of the raw materials, production, and attention to detail contribute to the increased cost of sustainable clothing. It is not the cost you pay, but what the planet pays. Think of clothes as an investment just like gold.”
“I would encourage people to tag, start asking questions about the recycled section and organic clothing in stores. There is no sure way of making sure of the effectiveness of questioning these brands though,” said Sana.
Varsha signed off with a little piece of advice for the audience at the panel. “Start thinking about clothing mindfully since it is something that you wear every day. Discarded clothes usually end up being burnt in landfills. While recycling is not the best option either; upcycling is much better. Add your personal touch to the clothes you wear to break the monotony.”
Sana Sharma spoke about the sustainable design process for her label and also ended the session with an activity where the audience had to make a sample dress out of paper by using minimal cuts and folds followed by a real-time demonstration of the same on fellow panelist Varsha Mohan.
(This story was covered in 2020)