Tuesday, December 5, 2023

ROUND-UP : Layers to clothing

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Sometime ago, ace fashion designer Taurn Tahiliani declared public offense at the makers of the Netflix series ‘Made in Heaven 2’ for having used his costumes without giving him the due credit. On the contrary, an actor playing a designer in the show was bestowed with the credit of designing costumes that the Tahiliani studio shared with the show’s team.
As I saw the news, given my inclination towards conscious living, I naturally began to brood over what conscious fashion was. The one where the authentic designer of the label got the due credit? In one aspect, yes. But then there are layers to what conscious fashion is.
The latest bit of information revolving around conscious fashion is that the frequency of the fabric of clothes should match or be higher than the frequency of the human body. Cotton, linen, and wool fit the category of fabric meant to keep the body well, whereas synthetics such as polyester and rayon deplete the body’s energy. The much-coveted silk, surprisingly, falls into the latter category. Luckily, 80% of my personal wardrobe comprises natural fabric, mostly cotton!
The three fundamental points to keep in mind while deciding if something is a conscious act or not are: if it hurts me, if it hurts you, and if it hurts the environment. Which brings me to include the fact that the making of fabric or clothing affects the environment. The creation of synthetic fabric contributes to environmental pollution, which makes its way back to us. Until some years ago, the argument supporting the popularity of polyester was its affordability. However, affordable polyester has found its way deep into the wardrobes of even those with a regular income of six figures. Why so? Because polyester is easy to maintain. Needs no ironing.
Yet another layer of conscious fashion is thrift fashion. In the West, it is commonplace to buy pre-owned cuts from charity shops. India, of late, is seeing a few user-driven online avenues such as FreeUp and Shop Alt designed to sell and buy pre-owned clothes. Just in case one wonders if it is only a certain section of society that indulges in pre-owned clothes, let me tell you of a friend who is a climate policy professional at the United Nations and an ardent supporter of thrift fashion.So much so that after owning several pre-owned pieces, she has launched an Instagram thrift store for people in Hyderabad that goes by the name Thrift Love Hyd.
Another Hyderabad-based fashionista friend I know buys brands and vintage fashion from Nagaland-born thrift store Carols’ Shop & Tea Room (where I didn’t spot any piece below Rs 3000) and Mumbai/Paris-based Bodements, which again have prices as tall as their checkered trousseaus. It clearly indicates that everybody is buying thrift—the rich and the not-so-rich. Yet another name that comes to mind is that of Ziniosa,meant only for the highest-end authentic brands. There is Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Jimmy Choo—you name it and you have it! Thrift fashion sure is catching up; however, the hygiene of the clothes remains a concern.
During a shopping outing to a mid-priced mall in Europe, I was overjoyed to land a pair of woolen socks made of recycled plastic. Synchronicity it is, I thought given the gigantic size of the mall. A few steps ahead, and I found several shelves stacked with fancy sweatshirts fabricated out of recycled plastic. India is far from such a trend. At the moment, even recycled or upcycled clothing avenues are far and few.
Closer home, we have the sought-after designer Asmita Marwa, whose label has gained international recognition for reincarnating the unused left-overs from the making of a piece. ‘Katran’ gets turned into a jacket or a skirt; however, in her own words during an interview, Asmita spoke of how the production cost of creating such a piece was higher. It is then best to stick to upcycling previously used clothes, which we Indians have done for ages. A saree becomes a salwaarkameez, a full-sleeved shirt turns into a sleeveless top, and a pair of blue denim gets dyed into a black pair…

(The author, Suhani Dewra, runs an online conscious store.)

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