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Monthly Archives: October 2017

Essential strategy for the fashion

Sustainability is a concept that will engage almost everyone for decades, says Angelo Camillo.

The topic of sustainability has assumed global dimensions and now carries political implications. From institutions of higher education to the United Nations, the consensus is that the earth is at risk. Perhaps, grave risk. The scientific consensus on climate change, previously dubbed global warming, has had significant impact on many industries. The textile manufacturing and fashion industries do not operate in a vacuum. They are just as vulnerable as other sectors like food and beverage and play an important role in daily existence and social and economic interactions.

What is sustainability? It depends upon whom you ask. Among the myriad definitions within the framework of textiles and fashion, I define it as a system that includes the natural and human environment that recreates itself, stays balanced hence, sustainable – in order to survive. It includes other systems such as economic, environmental, societal, and personal, on a global scale. Consequently, we must answer this simple question: How can we live in a world in which the earth’s resources that support life can be available to humans, as well as to the flora and fauna that are vital components of the ecosystem? The answer is simple: it has to be a collective and inclusive effort, on a global basis, which creates synergy among all players to benefit the continuation of the earth’s ecosystem.

Understandably, the textile manufacturing and fashion industries cannot be sustainable alone. They can have a significant impact on the entire ecosystem. It is true that change will not happen unless a trigger causes it. Pressure from consumers, competitors, legislative mandates and the personal initiative of activists will compel stakeholders to change.

Textile manufacturing and fashion industries are becoming sustainably proactive

A 2014 survey published by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (National Chamber of Italian Fashion) revealed that only 13 per cent of luxury goods consumers said that sustainability was a fundamental value in purchasing decisions. According to Sourcing Journal, while 38 per cent of consumers go out of their way to find environmentally friendly apparel, 69 per cent would be concerned if they purchased items that were not eco-friendly. In addition, about 39 per cent would hold the manufacturer responsible for eco-unfriendly products. The stakeholders in the fashion industry take this data seriously and have been engaged in implementing sustainability as a critical value of the global fashion system, given the various correlated environmental and social factors including protection of the environment, people’s needs and wants and corporate profits.

The critical challenge is to remain attentive to both the future of the planet and to fashion’s role in that future, given the amount of premium materials used by the world’s top luxury brands. Manufacturers of textiles that use chemicals in less expensive fabric lines – for shoppers at the bottom of the pyramid – need to be concerned as well. In response, many fashion designers, especially the Italians, are now engaged in the standardisation of reference on hazardous chemical substances in textile, leather and footwear products. Increasingly, many textile manufacturers are now ISO certified in various standards categories.

Welcome Sustainable fashion

Sustainable fashion or eco-fashion is a revolution to enhance the consumer’s awareness of social and environmental concerns on the clothing manufacturing sector. Similar movements have already taken place in the food industry, points out A. Siva Sakthi.

Sustainable fashion can best be brought in by creating sustainably designed products which increase the longevity of a garment. There are many reasons behind the formation of the sustainable fashion movement and one major reason is the fast fashion phenomenon. Low-cost clothing flies off the shelves faster, so brands have started focusing on cheap garments with short lead time. Recent studies on carbon footprints in the United Kingdom were triggered by excess clothing bought by customers, increasing the rate of carbon dioxide equivalent emission into the environment, setting off alarms in those rooting for sustainable fashion. People want to buy more garments every season at low cost even though their life span is so short that they need to be discarded at the end of the season. This psychological behaviour of customers has to be changed to implement the sustainable fashion movement.

Sustainability, by definition, should meet current generation needs without compromising future generations. The major challenge in sustainability is the cooperation of all suppliers of individual components. They have to be ethically secured and accounted for, from labour to transportation from factory to retail outlet, aftercare and disposal of garments. The fashion industry has a complex and fragmented supply chain that has global reach.

For the fashion industry, green is the new black to focus on sustainable practices. Several incidents in the twentieth century helped the rise of conscious consumerism. One is the fire in a Nike factory in Indonesia due to poor working conditions, resulting in protests and boycotts by employees and the media. Twenty-four years later, Nike is one of the leading companies in implementing sustainable practices.

Brands have continually supported in raising campaigns like Pantagonia’s responsible economy, which shows how sustainability is inbuilt into their corporate structure. Brands like Levi’s have cleverly showed such implementation into the lifecycle of their garments to raise consumer awareness. A case in point is Levi’s Care Tag For Our Planet initiative and waterless and Wellthread Collections made from 100 per cent recyclable material. Several big brands like Gucci, Calvin Klein, Stella McCartney and Puma are also stressing on sustainability.

Concerns of fashion industry

After the oil industry, the fashion and textile sector is the most polluting, because each stage of a garment’s life cycle threatens our planet and resources. To produce a kilogram of cotton — equivalent to one T-shirt or a pair of jeans — requires more than 20,000 litres of water, one of the major resources. About 8,000 types of chemicals are used in the conversion of raw material into garments. If some clothes do not sell or when they go out of style, they land in giant landfills, adding to the pollution.

Luxury to India

Industry feels the concept of ‘Make in India’ is the right direction to take, to make India the powerhouse that it can be. But for the initiative to be a success, issues of tax benefits, single window clearances, heavy duties on imports, imparting of skill-based training to the labour force and development of infrastructure need to be sorted out first. Manisha Almadi Midha spoke to head honchos of some Indian brands and upcoming fashion designers for their take on the initiative.

Monica Oswal

Executive Director, Monte Carlo

In 1984, Oswal Woollen Mills (OWM) in Ludhiana launched its signature brand, Monte Carlo and transformed the Indian garment sector. While its winterwear was developed from best quality pure wool such as Australian merino wool (certified with the Woolmark logo), the brand has emerged as the masses’ first choice when it comes to purchasing value-for-money products. Its apparel line is accepted as a trend among the fashion-savvy. Monte Carlo’s range of knitwear consists of over 500 designs for men, women and tweens. The brand’s tagline ‘It’s the way you make me feel’ is an expression reflecting the love, warmth and care that Monte Carlo has delivered ever since its inception. In 2006, the brand introduced the bold, energetic Alpha range in its women’s collection. Monte Carlo is available through 225 EBOs and over 1,200 MBOs in India and abroad. Monte Carlo has also marked its presence in UAE, Nepal and Bangladesh with exclusive outlets. The products are available online now, e-tailing through its dedicated website and other e-commerce portals.

Current turnover

₹ 600 crore

Target for next 5 years

₹1,000 crore

Top 5 steps to make ‘Make in India’ a success

� Manufacturers should get support on relaxation of taxes.

� Heavy duty on imports should be reduced.

� Emphasis on quality of production.

� To get skilled labour, government should promote imparting of skill-based training.

� Manufacturers should be provided with easy finance schemes at low interest.

Top 5 hurdles in ensuring ‘Make in India’ is a success

� Procurement of licence.

� Cheap and skilled labour/workforce availability.

� Basic facilities at Special Economic Zones (SEZ).

� Unavailability of low cost transport.

� Export policies
India hosts its own fashion weeks in Delhi and Mumbai which seem to be getting bigger and better every year. The names are getting known as well – Rohit Bal, Tarun Tahiliani, Ritu Kumar, Manish Malhotra, Ritu Beri, Manish Arora, Satya Paul, Rocky S — the list just keeps growing.

Market Size

The Indian fashion industry is expected to reach US$ 400 million in a couple of years with vigorous growth of over 10 per cent year-on-year. While this is tiny compared to the global industry, it is not too bad for an industry in this stage of infancy.

The reason India’s fashion industry will have a bright future is that it has a large young population. This, combined with increasing disposable incomes, has led to an increase in consumerism. So, those who can afford are looking for high quality and originality. They love brand names. Hence, we can say that the future of fashion industry in India looks promising.

Potential

This industry offers an abundance of opportunities for artistic, hard-working and enthusiastic people. The scenario for fashion design graduates looks good, thanks to the enormous and still increasing demand for stylish clothes and the quantity of exports.

After successful accomplishment of the graduate course, one can be self-employed. On the other hand, several garment store chains, export houses, leather companies, textile mills, boutiques, fashion show organizers and jewellery houses recruit professionals fascinated with a career in fashion designing.

Malkha: A handloom with a certain identity

The malkha fabric is immensely appreciated for its unique qualities-the swing, the drape, the ability to breathe, to absorb, to hold colour. The fabric is catching the eye of many a designer, and production has jumped four-fold in the last five years, writes Sudha Passi.

Using the “strength” of Indian textile production traditions from the field to the fabric stage, malkha is capturing the fancy of its producers and wearers alike as a successful business model and a sustainable handloom textile.

Combining the softness of mulmul and sturdiness of khadi (traditional varieties of textiles), malkha fabric is immensely appreciated for its unique qualities-the swing, the drape, the ability to breathe, to absorb, to hold colour, say people who are involved in its production and fashion designers who have introduced it on world stage in the last couple of years. And it is not just for the high and sophisticated sections of society.

The growing popularity is reflected in its production which has risen nearly four-fold in the last five years from 2,500 metres per month in 2010 to around 8,000-10,000 metres per month in 2015. It is expected to reach 40,000 metres per month by 2017, says Uzramma, the septuagenarian doyenne of Indian handloom textiles, who has been assiduously involved with the Malkha Initiative (textile chain) in the Andhra-Telangana cotton belt since its inception in 2003. As malkha production is scaling up, it is foraying into womens’, mens’ and childrens’ garments, which were shown for the first time at its Bengaluru show in December.

“It’s in the embryonic trial stage only,” Uzramma says. “At present, our main buyers are in the middle and upper middle income segments in different regions,” she says, adding that “rather than the masses we look at market segments differentiated by region as well as by income.”

In the wake of rising demand and appreciation of the product, the Malkha Initiative has steadily increased the number of weavers and other pre-loom processors it engages with. Currently 100 producer families are engaged in the process. In the next two years, this number is expected to increase to around 400, according to Uzramma.

Given that there is a Malkha Marketing Trust that ensures successful marketing of the entire production, the figures on expansion and production assume significance as a veritable indicator of product popularity and consumer taste veering towards sustainability, quality and value for money. For a fabric that is considered to be summer-friendly, malkha has a unique capability of keeping the wearer warm in winter, points out designer Shilpa Reddy, who chose it to showcase her collection at the prestigious J-Autumn Fashion Show at Eiffel Tower in October 2014. Shilpa says malkha was her natural choice as it was ‘springy, breathable handwoven’.