Fashion with a Green Tinge

Fashion with a Green Tinge
Rupali Narang
B.Sc. in Fashion Designing
Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, India

Fashion is not limited to dresses; it is seen in everything happening around us. Fashion, with its ever-changing trend, has a big role in polluting the environment. As fashion moved on a rapid-response production system, there started a trend of addiction to cheap, impulse purchase. Also termed as fast -fashion, this is destroying our environment, tragically devaluing our labor force, and leaving more of us dissatisfied. Fast fashion can almost always be equated with unethical practices.

Green fashion or eco-friendly fashion or slow fashion is a focus on clothing that takes into account not only the environment, but the health of the consumers who will be wearing the clothes and the working conditions of the people involved with making the clothes. Natural, handmade and handicrafts should be efficiently used in the present era and can be reserved for the future. Slow fashion is about more than just the environment, or human rights, or style. It is about living a life that is true and honest to all of our other beliefs and principles. This is a lifestyle choice.
Green fashion
Handicrafts and Textiles
Handicrafts and handlooms belong to the roots of traditional India. The movement which was started by Mahatma Gandhi – Home Spun Khadi has the artisans spread all over India but mostly the name of the craft is derived from their places of origin.

India has a range of hand painted / printed hand embroidered as well as resist dyed textiles, which range from embroidered shawls of Kashmir and Punjab to fine Chikankari of Lucknow, from simple Kantha to complicated Zardozis and sindhikadhais to kalamkaris, ajrakh, bagh and bagru prints to bandhanis and leheriyas. These are famous for their uniqueness. It plays a very important role in the country’s economy with almost 65 lakh people engaged in these activities. DELHI HAAT is an excellent marketing platform for these crafts.

Natural textiles are those that are grown on plants. There are quite a few different types to choose from, all with different environmental and social criteria.
Natural textile
Natural textiles
GM cotton: Two types of genetically modified cotton have been introduced in the last two years: Bt-cotton, which contains a gene that enables the plant to produce its own pest-killing toxin, and herbicide resistant cotton developed to tolerate specific herbicide applications. The reported benefits of both of these varieties lie in the reduced levels of pesticide application required.

Lyocell: It is made from wood pulp, but is processed so that water and solvents are recycled with minimal loss, thus reducing environmental impact.Uses-Apparel: Dresses, slacks, coats, jeans.

Hemp: It is fast growing plant and smothers out other plants (including weeds) therefore it does not require any application of herbicide. These fibres are similar to flax although slightly coarser and stronger. Hemp is suitable for a number of textile applications particularly furnishing fabrics and 'bottom weight' clothing. It is frequently blended with other fibres such as cotton, silk or synthetics. Hemp is a realistic substitute for both cotton and linen.

Silk: Non-violent silk from Assam, Eri-silk is also known as ahimsa silk because it is made without killing the silkworm. It takes about one month to process 300 grams of eri-silk. In a year a weaver produce only 6-7 sarees.

NATURAL DYES (Colors of the earth)
Clothing needs to have color to have any real market value. Therefore, plant-based dyes are acceptable to provide coloration to eco-friendly materials. An additional benefit for consumers is less irritation from natural plant-based dyes and a reduced exposure to certain toxins.

Aal: The blood red ‘aal' dye is among the last of the world's dyes still processed and extracted totally ‘naturally.' It is a centuries-old dye ‘recipe' of the tribal populations of Naganar in Chattisgarh, Bastar and Tokapar, and the Orissa tribals of Koraput.

Eupatorium: The number three invasive weed in Asia, especially in the Himalayas, has been used for textile dyeing and for extraction of pigment.

Indigo: One of the most important and popular dyes from ancient times till today, it is obtained from the leaves of Indigofera turquoise.

Logwood: The tree is fairly large and the freshly cut wood is colourless until it is exposed to air.

Madder: The valuable dye pigment that give Turkey Red Colour.

  • Liva- the new age fluid fabric by Birla cellulose. It has good absorbency, luster, smoothness and drapability. It is eco-friendly, versatile and beautiful.
  • Color Zen (air dyeing)- Use less water.
  • Water free stone washing of denim to reduce water usage.
These developments are for specific fabrics.


Over the years, with the realization of the unsustainable and hugely exploitative nature of the fashion industry, there have been attempts to go against the grain and prove that ‘sustainable fashion’ need not be an oxymoron. In India, designers like Ritu Kumar, with her continued patronage of traditional weavers and Deepika Govind, with her experiments using organic denims, have set the stage for a fashion revolution, for an industry where clothing is conscious.

A list of Indian brands that are determined to give khadi a makeover include Natural Alley, Malkha, Metaphor Racha, Cotton Rack, etc. Other prominent ones are as follows:

Fab India: Fab India has been around for 52 years and is India’s largest private platform for products made from traditional techniques and skills.Fab India links over 80,000 rural producers to modern markets, thereby creating sustainable employment and also preserving India’s traditional handicrafts in the process.

Aura Herbal wear: Aura’s slogan “We live and dye naturally” shows their strong commitment to sustainability. Their facility runs on solar energy, is child labour free, and does not produce toxic wastes. They have a GOTS certification as well as a certification for Total Recycling, among others.

Bhu Sattva: It is India’s first certified organic fashion apparel brand in India with products that are directly sourced from organic cotton farmers at fair trade terms. BhuSattva uses natural colours, vegetable and herb dyes and goes further to work on reviving various forms of traditional weaving and handloom.

Fashion giants like Marks and Spencer and ASOS are transforming their business by demonstrating a long-term commitment to conscious practices across the value chain. Pioneering initiatives like Levi Strauss’ Waterless Jeans, Nike’s Materials Sustainability Index, and H&M’s Conscious Foundation are all efforts in the right direction, efforts that examine every part of the supply chain – reducing the use of PVCs in fashion, sourcing ethical dyes from small scale mills, environmentally friendly glues, textile recyclability, moving away from animal testing and animal products, extended producer responsibility on waste fabric and more.

Green fashion need not mean wearing frumpy, ill-fitting, gruel-hued garments, buying prohibitively expensive stuff, or going years without buying new clothes. It means that, as consumers, we become more attentive to what goes into making the clothes we love and the social and environmental impacts they have before reaching us and once they leave our closets.
  • Understand how, where, by whom your garments were made and what went into making them. For the brands you are most loyal to, learn about the processes they follow – stuff like the extraction, production, disposal, and the transportation of what you are buying. 
  • Upgrading your entire wardrobe can be an overwhelming and expensive task. The best way to go about this is to start small, with your accessories. Look out for accessories made from sustainable materials like bamboo, clay and hemp or upcycled from bottle caps, newspaper, glass, or scrap fabric. 
  • Stay away from the synthetics. 
  • Buy garments in silhouettes, styles and colours that look good on you and that you will want to wear even when they are fromlast season. 
  • There is nothing wrong in buying new garments you might need, but discarding old ones while they are still in usable condition is a green fashion faux-pas. Use options like reuse,resell, donate, remodel, repair etc. There are online sites such as ebay or vintage fashion resellers like vestiare collective online.
Sustainable items are not very aesthetically eye-pleasing but are psychologically satisfying as the wearer know that fashion he is carrying has made no harm to the environment. If you are adamant to look good while contributing to the environment and people, then try to invest in some good quality clothes that you know will last you a lifetime. Green designers and eco-friendly brands would ensure you are clothed to perfection even while contributing to the environment. The big difference is understanding that what you’re wearing is manufactured by methods acceptable to Mother Nature.!

  3. Fibre2fashion,2012 –
  4. Crafts Council of India, 2011 report
  7. Craft-and-Green-Design-Presentation-by-Dr.-Sudha-Dhingra 
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Mazharul Islam Kiron is a textile consultant, entrepreneur, blogger and researcher on online business promotion. He is working as a consultant in several local and international companies. He is also a contributor of Wikipedia.

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