DESIGNER Anita Dongre was invited to the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to participate in a panel discussion titled “3 Trillion Reasons to Help the World Spend Better” on January 22. Dongre, who helms one of India’s most successful fashion houses, discussed how everyone can make conscious buying decisions that can change the world for the better. “All of us can define our journey by the purchasing and investment decisions we make, by the charities or goals we support, and by the actions we take. Each decision has the power to change someone’s world,” said the designer, who has long been a champion of sustainability and fair-trade practices, and runs her empire out of her eco-conscious headquarters in Navi Mumbai. On Sustainable Fashion Day of Lakme Fashion Week’s (LFW) Summer-Resort 2019 edition on January 31, Dongre will, yet again, put her money where her mouth — and brand mantra — are by presenting a collection in association with Tencel, a textile brand under the Lenzing Group, which offers sustainable and completely biodegradable fibres using an award-winning “closed-loop” production process to create fabrics. For a third season now — with two past collaborations with Rajesh Pratap Singh — Tencel will be tying up with a mainstream designer to display thoughtful and conscious fashion at LFW.
While the country debates sustainability practices and the Textile Ministry ruminates about “fashionising weaves”, this season, we’re looking forward to shows at LFW that promise to take the domestic design narrative forward on multiple levels. When the agenda moves from just seasonal trend forecasts and colour-code manifestos to talking about processes, techniques and sustainable alliances, it might not be too farsighted to say that Indian fashion is finally growing up. The forthcoming edition of LFW will have a host of promising designer labels, but will also shine the spotlight on the people who make the collection — weavers, seamstresses, manufacturers, creative collaborators and ethical enablers. While that may not be a first for the Lakme and IMG-Reliance combine-led event, who have, in the past, shone the spotlight on master craftsmen, weaving traditions and artisans too, it’s interesting to see more mill-made textile manufacturers engage in the conscious fashion conversation. In an industry, where the handloom hegemony often drowns out any discussion on the potential of mill-made fabrics, it’s interesting to see textile manufacturers headline collections alongside designers. When celebrated couturiers share credit with tailoring clusters, and thinking minds collaborate and innovate with weaving traditions, it’s a sizeable step forward for Indian fashion. Here are the creative partnerships we’re looking forward to this season:
In a unique presentation, Tencel also ties up with three upcoming labels specialising in upcycling — Doodlage, Rossbelle and Door of Maai — for #FashUp, an initiative by Lakme Fashion Week and Fashion Revolution India, a not-for-profit global movement campaigning for greater transparency in the fashion supply chain. The three labels will showcase Summer-Resort 2019 collections created from the leftover Tencel Micromodal fabric used in a fashion installation at the LFW venue last February. The idea is to advocate the virtues of recycling or upcycling of waste as a vital step towards a more sustainable future.
Designer Narendra Kumar’s collaborative collection with performance wear brand Alcis Sports aims to be sporty, chic and sustainable. The Alcis X Nari “My Earth My Style” line has been created almost entirely with recycled polyester sourced from plastic PET bottles. R-PET (Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate) is, reportedly, a recyclable material used for bottles and jars, making it a more environment-friendly and safe product than 100 per cent virgin polyester.
Anita Dongre will drive the sustainability message home with Tencel, albeit with an idyllic, breezy and commercially viable line titled “A Summer Reverie”. The collection employs Tencel fibres used with silk to produce fine summer blends sustainably. Think light, airy silhouettes in soft pastels and playful summer prints. Interestingly, Dongre’s Grassroot Initiative collaborates with weavers from the Northeast for yet another womenswear collection under the aegis of “Weaving Partnerships for Change” by the UN in India and IMG Reliance. Also presenting menswear as part of the “Sustainable Development for Northeast India” show is Ujjawal Dubey of Antar-Agni (in collaboration with Raymond). For their respective collections, the designers worked with Eri and Muga silk textiles handwoven by artisans from marginalised handloom clusters in Barkhetri (Nalbari) and Rampur (Kamrup) in Assam.
In a three-way collaboration, designer Aneeth Arora of Pero, Australia-based The Woolmark Company and Bhuttico, a Kullu-based wool weavers cooperative, will come together to present a handwoven and handmade luxury fashion collection made exclusively with Merino wool. This #FarmToFashion collection will see Arora draw inspiration from the traditional textiles of Kullu in Himachal Pradesh and revive geometric patterns of the local “pattu” in monochrome colours with tone-on-tone textures in shades of off-white, khakhi
Couturier Rohit Bal continues his love affair with Kashmir, this season presenting Guldastah, a tribute to the indigenous flowers of the Valley. But what makes this presentation extra special is his collaboration with seamstresses from Usha Silai School’s Kashmir clusters, who have worked with fabrics like cotton silk blends, silk organza, silks and velvets to give shape to Bal’s collection. “If by doing something like this, we can actually talk of integration and inclusion… and be able to let these women earn a living, it’ll be a great step forward,” says Bal in a promotional video.