Sustainability is the key for fashion industry to thrive:Opinion   

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By Parveen Kumarr Sahni, President Sewing Machines Business, Usha International

I am sure you have heard about the proverbial nine lives cats have but did you also know how many lives our garments can have? No? Well, and then read on to know more. Have you ever thought about where your garments end up when you just chuck them away? Most likely in one of the ever-growing mountains of landfills.

As fast fashion wreaks havoc on the environment with the increasingly growing demands of water and dumped garments, the murmurs of awareness are becoming loud and clear – we all just need to become more mindful and aware of the lifecycles of our garments. So, what does being mindful and aware mean? It means understanding how we all can recycle our clothes leading to a more sustainable future.

Fashion fans today understand the environmental impact of the clothing industry and are looking for viable alternatives, leading to a surge in numbers of preloved clothes finding new owners as well as a fast- growing upcycled garments economy.

This, dear readers, is how our garments can have multiple lives. Now that you have gotten the gist, let’s go a bit deeper into the two most important aspects of this trend.

This supports sustainability. When you don’t want a particular garment in your wardrobe for any reason – it could have a tear, you are tired of wearing it, it doesn’t fit well anymore, or you just haven’t worn it for the longest time – sure get rid of it. However, instead of throwing it in the trash basket, throw it into the recycling basket and you would have added one life to that article of clothing.

There is a whole new sub-economy growing around pre-loved old clothes and the sooner we join it, the better it will be for the generations to come. In fact, if you go back to our Indian roots there was a whole lifecycle to a garment which did not end with the first person who owned it. Ask your grand mom and you’ll be surprised.

While thrift shops are an obvious and easiest choice to give away your used clothes, there are many more ways to add more lives to specific garments. There are many people who have built businesses around the restoration of old clothes, and in India, sarees are heirloom pieces handed down many generations.

Today there is a great demand for upcycled antique traditional wear – so whether it to convert

Mom’s wedding saree into a stylish jacket that will be the showstopper at parties or then have great grandmoms Baluchari silk saree restored to wear at a wedding reception, this clan is definitely growing. The appreciation and aspirational value for genuine antique stuff are picking pace rapidly.

This is where the age-old tradition of sewing comes in – the role it is playing in creating an

Environment-friendly garments business is no less than a protagonist in a blockbuster movie, except this is real life! There are countless people who have turned entrepreneurs during the pandemic as they realized lowering wastage really is the need of the hour. All one needs is a bit of creativity and a sewing machine to provide these outfits with countless afterlives and in many cases add value and special meaning that transcends the age of the garment. Today’s sewing machines are like dream makers – they can help transform a garment to give it a totally new look.

This trend of recycling and upcycling is great in that besides being really unique, it is also a lot more cost-effective to upcycle and garment than to go out there and buy a new one. Trust me, if you bring out a saree — that you were lucky to get from your mom or mom-in-law who go it from her mom or mom-in-law – and have it restored to wear at a special occasion, you will be turning heads without needing to have spent a fortune to buy a new ensemble. It’s fashion in the most cost-effective manner.

There are many brands internationally that have already begun to offer repaired/upcycled clothes, and it’s a trend that’s thankfully catching on. While brands are doing their bit to encourage conservation and reuse of wearables, it’s up to us to do our bits too, don’t you think? And it really is as easy as it sounds, once you put your mind to it. This is one race we canal to join effortlessly and with increasing consumer consciousness and start-ups diving into the sustainable fashion space, become an advocate for it.

It’s a movement Mother Earth will thank you for!

Parveen Kumarr Sahni is business leader, over 27 years’ experience with Usha, IFB, Canon, Apple (Ingram Micro) managing IT & Consumer durable Product lines like Computers, Mobiles, Printers, Cameras, Projection, Imaging Products, Appliances and Sewing Category.

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