I can still feel the soft texture of the cotton frock that caught my eye, with its delicate work, gentle shade, buttons, reversibility, embodying the craft of the soil. In my mind’s eye I could already see my daughter looking comfortable and angelic in it. The price tag deterred me and reluctantly, I put it back.
But an epiphany hit me later when I spent even more on a bagful of clothes, which lie unworn in my daughter’s wardrobe waiting to be discarded — why did I not choose enduring quality over mediocre quantity?
As a society we never succumbed to disposable fashion, until now. We bought garments which stood the test of time, we darned and mended them and stored them for futurewear. The preference for longevity in our clothes made us choose fine handcrafted products, made with superior raw material.
Now we are completely in sync with the latest material from the fashion world thanks to the easy access, at an affordable price, to the products that are made available to us by popular brands. The looms and fine needles of master weavers and embroiders are biting the dust as we grab that ruby red pair of jeans. When and really how often will these jeans be worn, is not even a consideration.
Designer Deepika Govind puts this point in perspective when she says, “Sustainability in India can be achieved by patronising the classic Indian handlooms and craft that aren’t at the mercy of passing fads.”
Paromita Banerjee, a designer inspired by the feel of hand woven fabrics, opines, “Creating classic pieces that sustain themselves in every season and are representative of the craft and textile heritage of our country is the mantra. It’s a win-win situation for the person wearing them as well as for the weaving clusters all over the country who are in dire need of sustenance.”
On being quizzed on how tough it is for a conscious designer to source material that would match his ethos, Paromita shares, “It is all about planning your collections in advance.
For instance, I am already working on my spring/summer 2013 collection and the required fabrics have already been given out for production. In a way, I like it that these materials are not that easily available, since it adds value to the end-product.”
Deepika’s passion for creating luxury without an environmental price drove her to create the Eri that is often referred to as ‘Ahimsa’ silk, since the process is eco-friendly and non-violent, that does not involve the killing of the silk worm.
Eri cocoons are open at the end, allowing the moth to fly to freedom once the spinning is complete. The softness, drape and bounce of the Eri could challenge the Pashmina!
Naturally, due to less demand, the price of these raw materials is more than its mass-produced cousin, but there are ways in which it can be made more accessible to people.
“Apart from adopting it as a personal style, it would help if certain celebrities could wear these products when making a public appearance. Government’s support in their production/manufacture and finally, a resolve undertaken by popular garment brands to bring out ‘a green line’ every season would help lower prices,” Deepika explains. Paromita further says, “The real value of an item need not judged by its price but by the context behind it.
Imagine wearing a hand-woven Benarasi silk border sari which has taken months to be woven on a hand-loom somewhere in North India, by a master weaver working from his squalid abode for his only source of income is dependant on this creation.”
The final word comes from Sanjay Garg, “We have to find a middle path. With the lack of practicality in the usage of organic cotton and the slow death of the rare weave heritage, we would eventually end up paying through our nose for these weaves and textiles, which are readily available to us today. We just have to make an informed choice. A lot is riding on it.”
► Apart from adopting it as a personal style, it would help if certain celebrities could wear these products when making a public appearance
- Deepika Govind, Designer
► Creating classic pieces that sustain themselves in every season and are representative of the textile heritage is the mantra
- Paromita Banerjee, Designer