Opinion

Fashion Transformation - The Need for Blue Skies Thinking

In conversation with

Shilpa Anand

Eastern Engineering Company

Fashion and lifestyle sector changes because of the SDGs

Like the slow cooking movement, we may see a return to slow fashion, upcycling , higher demand for apparel that can blend the comfort of natural fibres with the drape/fall/versatility of manmade fibres.  KPMG and Textile Exchange released “Threading the Needle” a report that “highlights practical examples for companies in the sector and beyond, grappling with how to integrate the SDGs into their core business and global supply chain.

The report features:

  • Representative examples of SDG aligned shared value opportunities specific to the textile, retail, and apparel industry
  • A cluster approach to SDG integration that maps potential programs to defined business needs
  • Resources for starting and enhancing a company’s SDG journey, including guidance on multi-stakeholder partnerships and country-specific considerations
  • A framework for making the business case for SDG integration
    https://textileexchange.org/threading-the-needle-weaving-sdgs-in-the-textile-retail-and-apparel-industry/

Sustainability and Product

  • Innovation Arvind’s Khadi Denim Project  – when commercialised is one that I’m looking forward to with great interest.
    http://www.borderandfall.com/karigar/khadi-denim-revolutionary-textile/
  • Interestingly , you do get khadi denim fabric in Khadi Bhavan in Mumbai – its woven in UP. 
  • Globally there are several initiatives undertaken by all segments of industry – from plant, machinery , equipment ,  dyestuffs, inks producers  to the textile, garment and apparel companies.

Every choice a mill makes – from the fans and motors to fibre dyeing machines to digital printing machines impacts energy use and plays a role in sustainability measures.

  • Knowing the source help in fashion sustainability.
  • Something important happened in India in December 2018. The Organic Cotton Traceability Pilot began, with field trials being conducted by the Pratibha Syntex farm groups.

One has to go back to 2013 to know why this unheralded project is among the more important building blocks of a system called traceability.

The fast fashion culture has changed textile, clothing and apparel industries globally in unimaginable ways over the past few decades. Unsurprising then that these industries have also been among the first to face wide spectrum activism — from safety to health to labour to environment .

To read more – https://medium.com/@shilpaanand/greenwashing-provenance-traceability-whats-that-625def77bd44 

Fashion Industry standards and initiatives to plan for

Thinking about product and digital transformation in the fashion sector

Our diverse textile , clothing and apparel culture has meant different sets of policies for different section handloom, powerloom and milled fabrics and alson for fibres – the natural and the manmade fibres.

This cuts both ways when it comes to innovation.

For example, the gift store at Casa Batllo – the Gaudi designed residence in Barcelona sells cotton flower vases that can hold 500 ml of water.

Can we imagine a cotton fabric holding water? We need to see such product transformation in India too.

We have Centres for Textile Excellence labs set up for technical textile innovations. These need to be transformed into the textile industry’s Atal Tinkering Labs. Policymakers should be personally invested in such a venture and intervene to make it happen. It will need the three nodal ministries in GoI – Textiles, Heavy Industry and Commerce to pitch in.

We also have a bunch of textile research institutes – SASMIRA, ATIRA, BTRA, NITRA, CITRA, WRA, IJIRA, CRIJAF, CSB ( sadly infamous as the dreadful Silk Board traffic junction in Bengaluru) etc.

When was the last time these research institutes were brought together for a blue skies session, a hackathon, a free wheeling discussion on what is happening in the world around us.